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UNIVERSITY 
OF FLORIDA 
LIBRARIES 




S0CCEGE LIBRARY 



AGNES REPPLIER 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/agnesrepplierlaOOstok 



AGNE5 REPPUER 




By 



GEORGE STEWART STOKES 




Philadelphia 
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA PRESS 

LONDON: GEOFFREY CUMBERLEGE 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

1949 



Copyright 1949 
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA PRESS 

Manufactured in the United States of America 
Second Printing 



THE MAPLE PRESS COMPANY, YORK, PA 



To my 
Father and Mother 



Preface 



OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD 

h was in the fall of 1940 that I first met Miss Agnes Rep- 
plier when I was taken to cali upon her by her nephew, 
Dr. Sidney J. Repplier. We sat and talked that afternoon 
in October in the Victorian parlor of Miss Repplier's Clin- 
ton Street apartment, her Grandmother Shorb's tea set 
spread on a little table between us, its cups serving as a 
series of convenient ash trays. 

There were innumerable other conversations through- 
out the following five years, Miss Agnes invariably an- 
swering with great good humor my endless questions. 
Notes were taken as we talked, not only because such a 
procedure acted as a spur rather than as a deterrent to the 
essayist, but also because I was anxious to record the 
writer's own words as much as possible. And it was in 
this way that the vast majority of my information was 
gained. My debt to Miss Agnes is immeasurable. I can 
only trust that in some small way this biography will stand 
in evidence of my gratitude. 

I am heavily indebted to Professor Arthur Hobson 
Quinn for the time, patience, and criticai judgment he 
has expended on my work, as well as to Professor Scul- 
ley Bradley for his criticisms and suggestions. I am grate- 
ful to the late Miss Mary Repplier and to Dr. Sidney J. 

vii 



viii PREFACE 

Repplier and members of his family for their interest and 
help. I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to the late 
Mr. Harrison Morris and to thank Mrs. Schuyler Neilson 
Warren and her son, Mr. Schuyler Neilson Warren, for 
the use of their valuable letter collections; Mrs. Spalding 
Jenkins, Miss Katharine Brinley, Miss Sara Newton, 
Mother Marie Norton- Weir, and Mr. Ellery Sedgwick 
for the information they very kindly offered me. My 
thanks also to Mr. Edward H. O'Neill for his help in 
matters bibliographical, and to Miss Madeleine Skelly and 
Miss Bertie Pearson for their work in the preparation of 
the manuscript. Finally I wish to thank Houghton Mifflin 
Company and the Librarian of the University of Penn- 
sylvania for the facilities put at my disposai. 

Philadelphia, 1948. 

G.S.S. 



Acknowledgments 

OOODOODDDOOOOOODDOODODOD 

For permissioni to reprint copyright material in this 
volume, the author makes the following grateful acknowl- 
edgments: 

To Agnes Repplier for selections from her collections of 
essays and from her biographies of Junipero Serra, 
Mère Marie, Pére Marquette, and J. William White. 

To Horace H. F. Jayne for selections from The Letters of 
Horace Howard Furness. 

To Whit Burnett for a selection from This Is My Best. 

To Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., for a selection from 
American Fiction by Arthur Hobson Quinn. 

To the Atlantic Monthly for selections from various essays 
by Agnes Repplier and for selections from several re- 
views of her books. 

To the Catholic World for "The Sphinx," "St. Mona's 
Lambs," and for selections from various essays by 
Agnes Repplier as well as for selections from several 
reviews of her books. 

To the Commonweal for selections from several reviews 
of Miss Repplier's books. 

ix 



x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

To Doubleday and Company, Inc., for selections from 
Agnes Irivin by Agnes Repplier. 

To Little, Brown and Company and the Atlantic Monthly 
Press for a selection from This Book-Collecting Game 
by A. Edward Newton. 

To the Nation for selections from "The Virtuous Vic- 
torian" by Agnes Repplier and for a selection from a 
review by Eda Lou Walton of Junipero Serra. 

To the New York Herald Tribune for selections from a 
review of Fere Marquette and from a review of Times 
and Tendencies. 

To the Saturday Review of Literature for selections from 
a review of Times and Tendencies and from a review 
by Herbert Ingram Priestley of Junipero Serra. 

To the Yale Review, copyright Yale University Press, for 
selections from various essays by Agnes Repplier and 
for selections from several reviews of her books. 



Contents 



OODOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 



Chapter 


Page 




Preface 


vii 




Acknowledgments 


ix 


I 


Minnie 


1 


II 


"Sweet Absurdities" 


20 


III 


Career 


42 


IV 


The Atlantic Monthly 


66 


V 


Books and Aden 


81 


VI 


Wider Worlds 


95 


VII 


Varia: Of Friends and Travel 


111 


Vili 


Agrippina 


129 


IX 


A Happy Half-Century 


141 


X 


The Corning of the War 


157 


XI 


The War and After 


173 


XII 


Aftermath 


189 


XIII 


The Eighth Decade 


204 


XIV 


Agnes Repplier: Literary Artist 


220 




Notes 


263 




Bibliography 


267 




Index 


269 



Illustrations 

OOODOOODOOOODOOODODOOODO 

Agnes Repplier Frontispiece 

Photograph, courtesy of Mrs. Spalding Jenkins 

Facing Page 

Agnes Repplier and Elizabeth Robins 24 

From In Our Convent Days y by Agnes Repplier. 
Houghton Mifflin Company 

A Fireside Sphinx 134 

Photograph by Mathilde Weil 

To Think of Tea! 214 

Photograph by James L. Dillon and Company 



XUl 



CHAPTER I 

Minnie 

1850-1866 

OOOOOODOODDOOOOOODOOOOOO 

"No family could ha ve been more unknown to fame 
than mine," Agnes Repplier was pleased now and again 
to comment in mock complaint. And sometimes she would 
add with pride free from conceit, "My niche may be 
very small, but I made it by myself." Then, invariably, with 
mounting satisf action, "And what is even more remark- 
able, I got it out of Philadelphia!" 

As far as Agnes Repplier was concerned, at the time 
of her early literary struggles the heart of American let- 
ters lay in and around Boston. She was happy to point out 
that some years before Philadelphia had been the center, 
just as she would admit reluctantly that a few years later 
New York had taken first place. "But when I was coming 
along"— and of this she was very sur e— "it was Boston." 

For ali the stir it made then, Miss Repplier felt, Phila- 
delphia could have been quite of another world. New 
York was undoubtedly more commercial, and Baltimore 
perhaps even more foreign. But Philadelphia remained 
plainly inconsequential, neither one thing nor another, a 
legend only of what had been. And more than that, the 

1 



2 AGNES REPPL1ER 

city appeared to be almost totally indiff erent to those who 
could have lifted it into some little prominence. "A brief 
obituary notice in the papers was about ali they ever 
got," Agnes Repplier would remarle with finality. 

It is true that the essayist never offered any detailed pie- 
ture to substantiate her claim. There was no need for her 
to do so. Her own experience, she believed, stood as suf- 
ficient general proof. Certainly it was Boston that had 
first really recognized her. It was Boston that had given 
her her first big opportunity. And just as certainly, in 
those days, the city of her birth had never once opened its 
arms to her. "A droll city, Pmìadelphia," she would smile. 
"And tepid. Oh, so tepid." 

o o o 

Before her marriage, Mrs. Repplier had been convinced 
that she could not do better than to marry a handsome 
man. But, in her daughter's opinion, although Mr. Repplier 
fulfilled ali his wife's exacting requirements in the matter 
of appearance, she would have been more content had she 
remained single. Household cares choked her off. She 
discovered too late that it is difficult to be both domestic 
and intellectual. As a consequence, she was far from enthu- 
siastic about married life. 

Years later when Agnes Repplier's closest friend, Eliza- 
beth Robins, was married, the essayist confessed to suffer- 
ing a feeling of having been irretrievably a passed beyond," 
as she put it. But it may very well have been that her 
mother's experience stood constantly in the way of her 
ever surrendering her prized independence even for the 
security that marriage could have meant. She was, as she 



M1NNIE 3 

has said on many occasions, "like the cat that walked by 
itself." 

Agnes Mathias was eighteen in the summer of 1850 
when she met Mr. Repplier. Only a short time before she 
had left the Convent School at Emmetsburg, near her 
home in Westminster, Maryland. Tali, dark, betraying 
her German ancestry in her magnificent carriage as well 
as in the determination of her manner, the future Mrs. 
Repplier impressed one as striking if not exactly pretty. 
But more than that, she was an intelligent, even brilliant 
young woman. 

With naturai candor, the essayist once remarked that 
her mother had been well pleased with Mr. Repplier. Of 
the opinion that "a child receives his brains from his 
mother and his looks from his father," and perfectly aware 
of her own capabilities, she was more than a little satisfied 
with the handsome gentleman from Philadelphia. Agnes 
Repplier remembered her father as not very tali perhaps, 
but uncommonly good-looking, with features as clear as 
those on a Roman coin. She felt that his being twenty 
years her mother's senior and a widower with two half- 
grown sons served in the beginning at least only to add to 
his attractiveness. 

o o © 

John George Repplier, originally from Reading, Penn- 
sylvania, had been living in Philadelphia for some years. 
It was there that he managed the retailing of coal for a 
rnining business in which, with his three brothers, he was 
a partner. At one time, many years later, the Reppb'er 
brothers' coal lands near Pottsville were valued at more 



4 AGNES REPPL1ER 

than a half million dollars. Charles, John George, George, 
and Joseph rightly looked upon themselves as men of some 
substance. 

Although there were several daughters in the Repplier 
family, the only one to be remembered for any special 
reason was the eldest. She had been educated in France 
as a Sister of Charity, and according to family tradition, 
she was the first to introduce into this country the 
cornette, or huge winged bonnet, that distinguishes her 
order today. 

On one occasion— so tradition also maintains, though 
how she carne to be alone no one can explain— while 
traveling on a train, this Sister was engaged in conversation 
by a somewhat tipsy man who insisted upon occupying 
the seat next to hers. His unwilling partner was quite 
evidently dedicated to a far higher quest than the receipt of 
mortai man's favors, but the tippler was not to be put off 
by mere dress. Finally, with some sign of approaching 
tears, he whispered coyly that only recently he had lost 
his wife. 

The Sister of Charity, clever and animated in spite of 
her inhibiting garb, retorted, "So I supposed." She paused 
a moment, then added, "I have noticed that when the Lord 
wants to make a fool of a man, He takes away his wife!" 

Not ali the essayist's ready wit— so ably displayed in 
later years— carne from her mother. If, as it turned out, 
Agnes Repplier was not to inherit her father's "looks," 
by way of compensation she was at least to gain some 
"brains" from his branch of the family, not solely from 
the distaff side. 

On one occasion when she was giving information to 



M1NN1E 5 

a friend whom she had asked to write a biographical 
sketch of her, Agnes Repplier stated flatly that she was 
of French descent. But this was not quite accurate. The 
Repplier family, though it had originated in Strasbourg, 
was German in many respects. The senior Mr. Repplier 
had settled in the heart of the German section of Pennsyl- 
vania. There he had married a German. Even Agnes Rep- 
plier frequently referred to her paternal grandmother as 
"a strong German woman who rode horseback at eighty."* 
And several times she said of her mother, "Mathias— 
there's nothing more German than that." But Miss Rep- 
plier enjoyed the Gallic fiction. Although in ali her read- 
ing and in ali her traveling she carne upon the Repplier 
name only once— and that, ironically enough, over a 
barber shop— happily it had been somewhere in France. 

ODO 

Little is known of Mr. Repplier's first wife, Mary 
McGauley, save that in the year 1846 she died and was 
buried in the family vault at the Church of St. John the 
Evangelist, then the Cathedral of Philadelphia. It was of 
this church that she and her husband had been communi- 
cants almost from its founding in 1830. And it was to this 
church that nearly ali subsequent members of the Rep- 
plier clan were to repair at times of baptism and burial. 

Not long after the second Mrs. Repplier was settled in 
the home provided for her on North Eleventh Street, her 
stepsons, John George and Jacob Lancaster, both in their 
early teens, left Philadelphia and went to live in Reading. 

* "The atmosphere must have been bad for grandfathers," the essay- 
ist once said, "for I knew neither of them." 



6 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Agnes Repplier met them only occasionally in the early 
days. She remembered them principally as having been 
the owners of a number of volumes that were to become 
the delight of her girlhood. 

The first important books in Agnes Repplier's life, 
however, carne through her mother. The essayist was 
frank to remark that Mrs. Repplier never became deeply 
attached to her children. But what loss this daughter may 
have felt in her youth as a result of her mother's seeming 
indifference was, as she carne to realize, more than com- 
pensated for by the fact that Mrs. Repplier had turned to 
books for relief and escape from the trials of married life. 
It was a Constant source of pride to Agnes Repplier that 
her mother had been a careful reader. And she was grate- 
fui always that English poetry had composed one of Mrs. 
Repplier's favorite fields. 

Agnes Repplier considered her mother to have been in 
many ways a remarkable woman: discriminating, inde- 
pendent, ambitious, something of a maitresse femme. 
"And," she would sum the matter up, "my mother was the 
first woman I knew who used her own mind." 

ODO 

On November 4, 1851, Mrs. Repplier gave birth to her 
first child, Mary. But Christian names apparently mattered 
little; nicknames were the order of the day. Because Mary 
was so small a baby, she was promptly called "Teedie," 
derived, her mother insisted, from "tiny." And "Teedie" 
she remained throughout girlhood. 

Much to Mrs. Repplier's chagrin, as time passed, Teedie 
did not favor her handsome father in appearance at ali. 



M1NN1E 7 

If Mr. Repplier's features were as clear as those on a 
Roman coin, Teedie's were nondescript, after the fashion 
of a Roman coin well-rubbed. 

Four years later, on Aprii 1, 1855, a second daughter 
was born, duly christened "Agnes" after her mother. But 
Mrs. Repplier refused absolutely to have any such possible 
discrimination made— to her own disadvantage— between 
her and the child as would result from referring to them 
either as "Big Agnes" and "Little Agnes" or as "Old 
Agnes" and "Young Agnes." And because the cold, clas- 
sic name would yield to no acceptably refined corruption, 
though for no more observable reason, she was called 
"Minnie." 

For years the little girl suffered under what she felt was 
the indignity of this name. To any who dared inquire, she 
would declare in no uncertain terms that "Minnie" had 
been wished on her by the devil himself. 

"Aprii Fool," Mrs. Repplier frequently sighed, mock- 
ing herself more than her second child. Minnie too was a 
homely baby. As this daughter would put it, her mother 
was discovering that to trust to Providence in the matter 
of "looks" was turning out to be a chancy business. 

Four more years went by, and Mrs. Repplier bore an- 
other child. This time it was a boy. Although there was an 
ampie supply of relatives after whom she might have 
named him, Mrs. Repplier was tired of the almost endless 
list of Johns and Georges and John Georges with which 
both sides of the family were cluttered. Quite indepen- 
dently she hit upon the name "Louis." 

It had a pleasing sound— Louis Repplier. It may even 
have been that Mrs. Repplier hoped the foreign name might 



8 AGNES REPPLIER 

work a charm on the child. But no. Though "Louis" he 
was christened (for some reason or other he escaped being 
nicknamed), the boy followed the disheartening example 
set by his sisters. 

Whatever her mother's disappointment, Agnes Rep- 
plier has said, her father was well pleased. He was rather 
indifferent to the training of his children, she would ad- 
mit. They never constituted any problem to him. He pre- 
ferred to leave them largely to their own devices or to 
the instruction of their mother. But he loved them dearly, 
and the boy most of ali, for here at last was a son to fili the 
gap made when George and Lancaster had left home. 

"With an unconcern that can be achieved only by those 
sufficiently handsome not to need to care about appear- 
ance," the essayist remarked on one occasion, "my father 
lost no sleep over my mother's shattered illusions." 

© © © 

Teedie and Minnie were as unlike each other as two 
little girls could be. Although neither of them cared for 
dolls and in this small respect were as one, in ali other ways 
they were strikingly different. Teedie was dark, clever, 
precocious. Minnie was light, dull, slow to learn anything. 
Teedie was obedient, careful, precise. Minnie frequently 
had to be spanked for doing something naughty, though 
likely as not the very next day she would repeat whatever 
it was that had brought on the punishment. Teedie ab- 
sorbed a great deal of her mother's attention, insisting on 
getting ali that was to be had. Minnie, on the other hand, 
was shy, almost indifferent. 

The older girl performed ali the expected female skills 



MINNIE 9 

beautifully: sewing, knitting, crocheting. Minnie could 
do nothing. She could not even thread a needle with any 
ease. In the domestic crafts, it appeared, she was destined 
for dismal failure. 

Music too, her mother discovered, touched no chord 
whatsoever in Minnie's being. She was unable to hum even 
so familiar an air as "Yankee Doodle." Years later, when 
she had become a somewhat unwilling patron of the Phila- 
delphia Orchestra, she found it a painful business indeed 
to attend a performance. For her, music was to fit properly 
only into a Munich beer hall where "Wagner is thundered 
at you through an atmosphere so dense with tobacco smoke 
that you can't see your neighbors." 

Ali this, Agnes Repplier would gravely confess, was 
sufficiently shocking to her mother, but there remained an 
even greater concern— reading. Teedie had learned at six 
and quite by herself. Not so with Minnie. It seemed she 
never would gain the ability. 

But for ali Mrs. Repplier's disturbing disappointments, 
life in the Repplier home was much as one would expect. 
The house itself, rising directly out of the sidewalk, was 
unpretentious, one of a block on North Eleventh Street 
known collectively as "City Row." The essayist remem- 
bered most vividly the second-story veranda that ran across 
the rear, a favorite spot in summer above the tiny garden 
below. 

There were not many boys and girls in the neighbor- 
hood with whom Mrs. Repplier allowed Teedie and Min- 
nie to play, and none who lasted as friends into later life. 
"But," Agnes Repplier remarked once, "like ali children, 
we were entirely capable of making our own entertainment. 



10 AGNES REPPLIER 

And we were not ali blocked up with playthings as they 
are now." 

Louis was the unfortunate one in these early days. One 
summer he contracted a severe case of measles that left him 
weak and exhausted. When he had recovered sufficiently, 
he was taken by his father on a boat trip up the Delaware 
River. This was considered a very special treat indeed, and 
certainly at the time it seemed an innocent expedition. But 
as an unfortunate result of the outing, Louis caught a heavy 
cold that led eventually to a stroke of paralysis. Ever after 
that, though for years he was subjected to ali manner of 
treatment, he had to wear a built-up shoe on his right 
foot, and he never regained much use of his right arm. To 
his elder sister in later years it seemed almost a pity that 
he had pulled through. His was to be "such a scrap of a 
life." 

ODO 

About the year 1863 the Repplier family moved to a 
large home at Twentieth and Chestnut Streets. There were 
many reasons for the change of residence, but apparently 
the one of most appeal was that Mrs. Repplier felt a "cry- 
ing need for closet space" in the "City Row" house, and 
this new home, built for her by her husband, was equipped 
with "closets galore." 

Not long after she had her family settled on Chestnut 
Street, Mrs. Repplier turned with redoubled efTorts to Min- 
nie and her education. "I was nearly nine," the essayist 
confessed, "and should have been showing some signs of 
progress." Teedie, she would add ruefully, was at the 
time in the happy course of covering herself with honors 



M1NNIE 11 

at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, the school, then on the 
outskirts of Philadelphia, to which she had been sent a 
short time before. 

The only remarkable thing Mrs. Repplier had been able 
to discover in Minnie was her strong memory. And in con- 
sequence she had stocked her daughter with poetry, stanza 
upon stanza, page after page, endlessly. Minnie may have 
been slow, but she was tenacious. And what she once 
learned, she learned for good. 

But Mrs. Repplier must have been aware of the fact that 
a long memory is not necessarily a sign of intelligence. 
She felt that Minnie would have to demonstrate more 
than just merely the ability to remember poems she learned 
vive voce in order to become worthy of her. 

The next step had been to try reading. For some time 
Mrs. Repplier had struggled with Minnie over a little text 
designed, so it claimed, to teach the art of reading in as 
painless a fashion as possible. But Minnie and the volume 
were in distinct disagreement. Years later she classed it 
with a select group that, out of ali the countless number of 
books she read in her youth, had caused her the most 
hindrance: 

I learned my letters at the cost of infinite tribulation, out of 
a horrible little book called "Reading Without Tears," which 
I trust has long since been banished from ali Christian nurs- 
eries. It was a brown book, and had on its cover a deceptive 
picture of two stout and unclothed Cupids holding the vol- 
ume between them, and making an ostentatious pretense of 
enjoyment. Young as I was, I grew cynical over that title and 
that picture, for the torrents of tears that I shed blotted them 
both daily from my sight. It might have been possible for 
Cupids, who needed no wardrobes and sat comfortably on 
clouds, to like such lessons, but for an ordinary little girl in 



12 AGNES REPPLIER 

frock and pinafore they were simply heartbreaking. Had it 
only been my good fortune to be born twenty years later, 
spelling would nave been left out of my early discipline, and 
I should have found congenial occupation in sticking pins 
or punching mysterious bits of clay at a kindergarten. But 
when I was young, the world was stili sadly unenlightened 
in these matters; the plain duty of every child was to learn 
how to read; and the more hopelessly dull I showed myself 
to be, the more imperative became the need of forcing some 
information into me— information which I received as re- 
sponsively as does a Strasbourg goose its daily share of prov- 
ender. For two bitter years I had for my Constant companion 
that hated reader, which began with such isolated statements 
as "Ann has a cat," and ended with a dismal story about a 
little African boy named Sam. . . . 

But there was more to the situation than met the eye. 
(As for Reading Without Tears, one is inclined to be- 
lieve it was the utter stupidity of the book rather than 
the difficulty of any lessons in it that ofTered the major 
stumbling block.) And as soon as Mrs. Repplier marked 
what lay behind the greater part of Minnie's seeming in- 
ability, she saw to it that matters underwent a drastic 
alteration. The result was that shortly thereafter Minnie 
became almost too omnivorous a reader. 

Agnes Repplier freely confessed that at the time she 
had decided that learning to read was entirely unneces- 
sary if there was always someone around to read to her. 
She had found that her mother or the nurse, Abbie, had 
been more than willing. And so she had preferred to let 
the annoying business of learning drift quite casually. She 
had listened rather than read. 

But one day Minnie was shocked into the realization 
that a change in the situation was imminent. Mrs. Rep- 



M1NNIE 13 

plier was talking with one of her friends about the little 
girl's dullness in reading. "I wouldn't worry about the 
child," the friend said in cairn conclusion. "She's just 
plainly deficient." As if that were any comfort to a 
mother who in this daughter had been cheated by a fickle 
Providence not only as to "looks" but apparently as to 
"brains" as well! 

Minnie ne ver forgot the grimness of her mother 's reply: 
"She , ll learn or die in the attempt!" 

Thereafter the reading to her stopped. Mrs. Repplier 
and Abbie turned deaf ears to her pleadings. The books 
were hers for the asking; but if she wanted to discover 
what was in them, she must explore them alone, unaided. 
And after a bit that was exactly what Minnie did, the only 
difficulty then being that she rarely ceased. 

o © o 

The first book that Minnie read by herself was Hay- 
ward's translation of Faust, not quite the usuai fare for lit- 
tle girls of nine or so even in the 1860's. But naught else 
being provided, she was forced to read grown-up books 
for the most part in her childhood, though of this she was 
never known to complain. 

To her infinite delight— one advantage of having a cul- 
tivated mother— she discovered that a large supply of 
English letters awaited her at home. She unearthed, among 
other volumes, Bishop Percy's Reliques and a host of the 
popular Romantic poets of the day. She found a complete 
set of Maria Edgeworth, of which she grew very fond, 
as well as a great quantity of the inevitable pious works 
about which she cared not a whit. 



14 AGNES REPPLIER 

Minnie carne upon such a number of treasures and took 
so Constant a delight in reading as to threaten on occasion 
her awareness of the social graces: 

When I was young, ali well-brought-up little girls . . . who 
were permitted to visit their playmates, were cautioned by 
careful mothers that they must on no account open a book. 
To sit in a corner and read, instead of joining decorously in 
games, was held to be unpardonably rude. 

As for any sense of duty, Minnie never allowed it to 
stand in the way of her reading: 

Once more I see the big, bare old-fashioned parlor, to dust 
which was my daily task, my dear mother having striven 
long and vainly to teach my idle little hands some useful 
housewifely accomplishment. In one corner stood a console 
table, with chilly Parian ornaments on top, and underneath a 
pile of heavy books, Wordsworth, Moore, the poems of 
Frances Sargent Osgood— no lack of variety here; The Lady 
of the Lake, and Byron in an embossed brown binding, with 
closely printed doublé columns, well calculated to dim the 
keenest sight in Christendom. Not that mysterious and malig- 
nami mountain which rose frowning from the sea, and drew 
ali ships shattered to its feet, was more irresistible in its at- 
tractions than this brown, bulky Byron. I could not pass it 
by! My dusting never got beyond the table where it lay; but, 
sitting crumpled on the floor, with the enchanted volume 
on my lap, I speedily forgot everything in the world 
save only the wandering Childe ... or the "Corsair," or 
"Mazeppa," or "Manfred," best loved of that dark group. 

Mrs. Repplier, wise woman that she was in many re- 
spects, let Minnie alone to follow her own bent. In mat- 
ters of what to read at least, she neither admonished nor 
dictated. Byron may not be generally considered the most 
wholesome of reading for little girls. But of this Minnie 
was quite unaware. "Having never been told that there 



MINNIE 15 

was such a thing as forbidden fruit in literature," she 
"was spared at least that alert curiosi ty concerning it 
which is one of the most unpleasant results of our pres- 
ent guarded system." 

© o o 

Although the Civil War worked no serious direct ef- 
fect upon her family, it did not pass without certain re- 
percussions. The Maryland-born Mrs. Repplier, like many 
transplanted Southern women, was hotly Confederate. 
But Mr. Repplier remained staunchly Unionist. He was 
proud indeed of Lancaster who had left his Aunt Lucy's 
home in Reading to join the Northern forces. And he 
was a little grieved at his wif e who had taken it upon her- 
self, along with several other Southern women in the city, 
to supply the Confederate prisoners at Fort Delaware, not 
far from Philadelphia, with boxes of food, jelly, wine, and 
books. He could scarcely object to her humanitarian inter- 
est, but he was not altogether pleased that thus she would 
openly flaunt her sympathies. 

Little of this reached Minnie or disturbed her at her 
reading. Even the wild rejoicings that greeted the news of 
Lee's surrender when it was announced in Philadelphia on 
Aprii 15, 1865, remained vague and blurred in her mind. 
There were bonflres and parades and speeches, ali blended 
together in the pealing of countless bells and the shouts and 
laughter of thousands. Everyone seemed to be very happy. 
But the reason for the jubilation was none too clear. The 
scene was largely one of confusion and made no strong 
impression. 

The shocking news of Lincoln's assassination a few days 



16 AGNES REPPLIER 

later was a diff erent matter. Minnie never f orgot the sight 
of house after house, building upon building, theaters, ho- 
tels, stores, ali draped in mournful black. Even their own 
home bore its funereal crepe. 

On Aprii 22, at four-thirty in the afternoon, cannon 
sounded, one booming each minute. That, Minnie's father 
told her, meant the approach of the funeral train to the sta- 
tion on South Broad Street. And several hours later, the 
great procession passed the corner, crossing Chestnut at 
Twenty-first Street, on its way through the city to Inde- 
pendence Hall where the Presidente body was to He in 
state for a day and a half . 

Bands playing slow, melancholy music, the City Troop 
in cacophonously brilliant uniform, the mayor and offi- 
cials of the city, civic leaders, hundreds of soldiers marched 
by. Then carne the cataf alque drawn by eight black horses, 
its canopy towering high above the people so that ali 
might see the bier. 

The entire household had gone to the corner to witness 
the cortege as it flled by. There they stood in respectful, 
awed silence with dozens of other families from the neigh- 
borhood. Everyone was most excited, but no one dared 
breathe a word lest, as the essayist commented years later, 
he be misunderstood and find himself accused of having 
killed Lincoln. 

Suddenly a voice rose in frantic shouting, piercing the 
doleful music. The onlookers turned in horror to see a 
young girl, enchanted by the spectacle, jumping up and 
down, clapping her hands in ecstatic glee. Mr. Repplier 
was furious. It was one of the maids from his household 
making the disgraceful demonstration. 



MINN1E 17 

"Quick!" he whispered to his wife. "Get her home and 
lock her up, or we'll have the house burned down about 
our ears!" And in a flurry of apologies, subdued admoni- 
tions, and threats, they bustled the girl down the Street. 

Once indoors, Minnie for one felt safe. Surely, she 
thought, the people would understand that the maid's 
f oolishness was none of their doing. Surely they would not 
bum the house down! 

© © O 

Late in the month following the Lincoln funeral pro- 
cession, Mrs. Repplier gave birth to a second son. He was 
christened John after his grandfather, the parents said, 
though, as Agnes Repplier would remark, which one was 
anybody's guess, both grandfathers being of the same name. 

"At last God has given me a handsome child," the happy 
mother was pleased to declare to the friends and relatives 
who carne to admire and congratulate, for even from the 
very first John was a handsome boy. And as he grew older, 
he became more and more like his f ather in feature, though 
his hair was light. 

Little Minnie adored her new brother. He was so pretty 
and so clever he quite occupied her time away from her 
precious reading. She loved just to look at him, his fair 
curls, his blue eyes. And there was no denying that he was 
clever. It seemed no time at ali before he could talk or 
even pick out letters in the newspaper his father held for 
him as he dandled the baby on his lap. 

One day after an afternoon's outing Abbie happened 
to bring John home on the horsecar. He talked with her 
so like a wise little gnome that an elderly gentleman on the 



18 AGNES REPPLIER 

car, amazed at the child's ability, asked the nurse how old 
he was. Before Abbie could answer, John spoke up. "Fm 
twenty-two months old," he volunteered, "and the smart- 
est boy in town!" The story became almost legend with 
Minnie. 

About two years later, to the infinite horror of the 
family, John was choked to death one night with croup. 
To Minnie his death seemed at the time one of the abiding 
tragedies of the world. Even in later years, although she 
fully realized that precocious children rarely fulfill their 
early promise, she felt that John could have lifted them 
ali into "real fame." It had been his road in life that she 
had followed, she insisted. And she would add, "John was 
the only child both brilliant and handsome in which my 
mother ever indulged." 

o o o 

John's death was tempered for Minnie by new and dis- 
turbing prospects. Ever since she had learned to read, she 
had been studying with her mother. And though, by her 
own confession, she had revealed herself only an indif- 
ferent scholar, she must go to school. On this Mrs. Rep- 
plier was most emphatic. 

For almost four years now Teedie had been bringing 
home pleasant accounts of Eden Hall, tales to which Minnie 
had lent only an occasionai ear. She was not particularly 
interested in school, Eden Hall or any other. Life generally 
was satisfactory to her as she found it at the time. 

But in the matter of education, Minnie was not con- 
sulted either as to her wishes or preferences. In her day 
little girls were not taken into the confidence of their 



M1NNIE 19 

parents. A decision was arrived at for her, and she was 
made ready to meet her prearranged future. That was ali 
there was to it. 

Eden Hall— not overly stirring to Minnie at the time, 
but how she was to relish her days there! How, once she 
had gone, she was to regret the vacations that would bring 
her back to the dullness of what just now she was about to 
quit most casually! Her life at home had been a rather 
solitary affair. But at Eden Hall it was to emerge into a 
world of inspiring friendships. At home she had been plain 
"Minnie," never the equal of her sister. At Eden Hall she 
was to become "Agnes," quite a person in her own right, 
no longer a lesser, comparative apology. 



CHAPTER II 

"Sweet Absurdities" 

1867-1871 

OOOODOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 

The Convent of the Sacred Heart— Eden Hall— located 
on the northernmost reaches of Philadelphia, boasted a 
single main building in Minnie's day. Originally a private 
home of the early Victorian period, it was a plain, brown- 
stone structure, topped by a mansard roof. A porch ran 
across the front, reached by wide, shallow steps. To the 
east had been added a wing, at the far end of which stood 
the Chapel, hearing a cornerstone dated 1849. On the west 
side extended a matching wing built during the Civil War. 
Possibly because of the recent anti-Catholic riots, it had 
been constructed mainly after sundown by candlelight, and 
the pointing wavered in perpetuai sympathy with what 
had been the workmen's unsteady illumination. 

The day for the girls at Eden Hall began with Mass in 
the Chapel. During the bleak winter months, it was cold 
comfort indeed they received at their devotions, for the 
building was unheated. But in the spring and fall, when the 
sun was up as early as the students, the Chapel was a pleas- 
ant place. 

Mass was followed by breakfast, a meal rendered almost 

20 



"SWEET ABSURDITIES" 21 

silent by the mie that ali conversations were to be carried 
on in French. A further mie stated that those students who 
did not indulge in such linguistic exercise were required to 
stand before the entire group at the end of the period al- 
loted for eating and be marked down for their refusai. 
But many of the girls preferred to receive the demerit 
rather than submit to the stupid inanities they could man- 
age in the foreign tongue. 

Years after it had been her experience, Agnes Repplier 
wrote: 

At that Spartan meal . . . even had we been able or willing 
to employ the hated medium, there was practically no one to 
talk to. By a triumph of monastic discipline, we were placed 
at table, at our desks, and at church, next to girls to whom 
we had nothing to say;— good girls, with medals around their 
necks, and blue or green ribbons over their shoulders, who 
served as insulating mediums, as non-conductors, separating 
us from cheerful currents of speech, and securing, on the 
whole, a reasonable degree of decorum. 

Classes began at the conclusion of breakfast. As for 
the studies, they were quite according to the usuai pattern. 
Minnie thought them simple if bothersome. History she 
enjoyed, and she was more than willing to write ali the 
compositions the patient nun in charge could possibly 
read. But mathematics— "those little imps called numerals, 
as difficult to master as letters, and leading up to nothing 
but sums, which are an inadequate compensation"— was 
anathema to her. And French annoyed her, possibly be- 
cause at the time she found it fashionable to be annoyed by 
the one subject the convent really endeavored to teach 
fully and well. 

There was little time at Eden Hall for recreation. "No 



22 AGNES REPPLIER 

one had yet discovered that play is more instructive than 
work, no one was piling up statistics to prove the educa- 
tional value of idleness." But the girls were free certain 
times each day. Then they might roam the grounds in 
good weather or seek vicarious adventure, of a mild sort 
to be sure, in the library. 

"Primes," the reckoning that carne each Sunday after- 
noon, was the most exciting time of the week for Minnie. 
For this event the girls gathered in the Chapel under the 
nearsighted eyes of the Reverend Mother while one of 
the nuns read aloud the week's record. Here each student's 
deportmental as well as academic triumphs were disclosed 
for the whole school to wonder over. 

Minnie found the ceremony entirely to her liking except 
on those hapless days when she was called forth to receive 
her reward. Fortunately, as she regarded the matter, such 
times were rare. But when luck was against her and the 
friends who felt as she— the "Hail Marys" they had said 
earlier in the day with an eye to warding off the misery 
proving to have been of no avail: 

Then, over an endless expanse of polished floor, slippery as 
glass, we moved like stricken creatures; conscious that our 
friends were watching us in mocking security from their 
chairs; conscious that we were swinging our arms and turn- 
ing in our toes; and painfully aware that our curtsies would 
never come up to the required standard of elegance and grace. 

Although the girls at the convent were governed with 
what passed for an iron hand, Minnie found the discipline 
at Eden Hall far less stringent than at 2005 Chestnut 
Street. Because the rules at the convent were common to 
ali, which was not entirely the case at home, they seemed 



"SWEET ABSURDITIES" 23 

fair. And as the essayist would blithely point out, even 
though you followed them— which, she added, she did not 
always do— you had a good time. 

Minnie liked the nuns well enough, but for the most part 
she infìnitely preferred the children. Some little girls are 
naturai parts of a community, and she took to life at the 
convent with scarcely a backward glance. She was never 
homesick for a moment. She had a better time at school 
than at home; hers, she felt, was not the kind to be home- 
sick for. Vacations were to be as desert stretches to her, 
and she was always glad when it carne time to return to 
Eden Hall. 

ODO 

It was on September 8, 1867, that Mrs. Repplier took 
Minnie to the Convent of the Sacred Heart. And on the 
very day of her arrivai she made one of the strongest and 
most important friendships of her life. As she sat in the hall 
alone, she watched a group of girls file past her on their 
way to the dining room. Her mother had gone, and she 
had not yet been absorbed into the life around her. She 
was on her own now, understandably apprehensive, yet 
curious and excited as well. 

The line of girls paused a moment opposite her, and there, 
directly across the way, stood one to whom her heart went 
out, as she would say, never to come back. The girl was 
not good-looking by any means, sallow somewhat, with 
dark, clipped hair and véry light blue eyes. But Minnie 
felt as David must have felt when first he saw Jonathan. 

"Oh, I hope she will be my friend!" she whispered to 
herself. And that night the two met at recreation. 



24 AGNES REPPLIER 

It was inevitable that the two should meet sooner or 
later, for as Minnie shortly discovered, Elizabeth Robins— 
"Lizzie" at the convent— led quite a group at Eden Hall 
much as lambs are led to the sacrifice. And willing, devoted 
lambs they were. Although Minnie gathered about her a 
party of her own almost from the start, to them ali, Liz- 
zie's word was law. Once the older girl had accepted some- 
one as a friend, she stood by that friend, and Minnie early 
swore complete allegiance to this incomparable person. 

That Lizzie had condescended to take notice of her at ali 
made Minnie very proud. Lizzie was a power at Eden 
Hall, though Minnie was unable to fathom just why un- 
less, indeed, it was her seeming indiiference to power. 
She was the ideal, the perfect friend in the eyes of the 
younger girl. Minnie never quite caught up with Lizzie. 
She never won a single prize for which her friend com- 
peted on the somewhat rare occasions when either both- 
ered to do her best. But she loved her so she did not care. 
They were friends, and nothing else mattered. 

D O O 

Minnie was determined from the start that, if she failed 
in ali things else, she would cast off the distinctly hateful 
nickname with which her mother had blessed her and take 
once and for ali her true, Christian name. "Minnie" she 
now had been for more years than she could remember. 
"Agnes" she would become. 

And in this noble cause she enlisted the services of her 
friend Lizzie. To Agnes, as she was henceforth to insist 
upon being called, "Lizzie" was a downright insult, quite 
the equal of her own unbearable nickname. "Elizabeth" 



"SWEET ABSURDITIES" 25 

she should become, and Lizzie, understandably enough, 
was not unwilling. 

Jointly the two notified their little band. Did the other 
members of it realize the reason why? No màtter. "Agnes" 
and "Elizabeth" each was called thereafter— except by the 
older diehards, the upper-class students, who could not, 
or would not, see the importance of the change. 

o o © 

Agnes, Tony, Marie, Annie, Lilly, Viola, and Elizabeth 
formed a unique, clever group that held together tena- 
ciously throughout their school days. It was these girls who 
were involved one time in the stealing of some straws 
from under the Bambino as he slept quite innocently be- 
neath the glass case in the hall outside the Chapel, a meas- 
ure decided upon so that each of them might have some- 
thing properly sinful to confess before undertaking the 
retreat periodically required of ali students at Eden Hall. 
It was these girls who gathered for themselves so unholy 
a conglomeration of indigestibles, including wine and 
cigarettes, for one particularly momentous congé sans 
cloche. 

These were the daring seven who stole from their beds 
one night to watch the beautiful Marianus beneath the 
trees in the moonlight, and indeed collectively gave their 
hearts up to him. These were the seven who cut the num- 
bers of their own true loves deep in their arms (each girl 
at the convent being expeditiously designated on occasion 
by a number) to prove their undying affection. These 
were the seven who pretended to be married and to take 
in marriage, at which time Agnes unwilling relinquished 



26 AGNES REPPLIER 

Spain, the land of her heart's desire, and became, not 
the blessedly romantic "Princess of Casule," as she very 
much wished, but a quite mundane "Duchess of Tuscany" 
instead. 

It was Agnes, Tony, Marie, Annie, Lilly, Viola, and 
Elizabeth who provided the "sweet absurdities" for In 
Our Convent Days. It was they who made life miserable 
for the mesdames of Eden Hall while making it memorable 
for themselves. 

In later, half-serious moments, Agnes Repplier consid- 
ered learning to smoke among her major accomplishments 
at the convent. Needless to say, at the time smoking 
scarcely developed into a habit. Such was to be reserved for 
more mature years. But beginning with the two cigarettes 
allotted to each girl in her little band the day they cele- 
brated one congé sans cloche, Agnes and her friends would 
on occasion indulge in this most exciting of pastimes. 

Just where the cigarettes carne from is now something 
of a mystery, though the first had been smuggled to them 
by Viola's brother. The girls were allowed precious little 
money to spend by themselves even if they had been able 
to get beyond the grounds of the school to make so uncon- 
ventional a purchase. But whatever their source, appar- 
ently they were available now and again. 

At these delightful times, Agnes and her friends resorted 
to one of the attic storerooms or to a basement music 
studio. Sometimes they even became so daring as to go to 
Elizabeth's room. Being an older girl, she had a room to 
herself, the younger students claiming no more than a 
screened-in cubicle in the general dormitory. 



"SWEET ABSURDITIES" 27 

One day the girls' irregular luxury was ali but brought 
to a nerve-shattering disclosure. Agnes and several of her 
friends had gone to Elizabeth's room to smoke. After a 
short time of undiluted pleasure, they were interrupted by 
a madame attracted to the room by the odor of smoke 
drifting so innocently from it. 

"What's this I smeli?" the agitated nun called anxiously 
through the bolted door. 

At first a terror-stricken silence answered her query. 
Then in a faltering voice one of the little criminals ven- 
tured, "The girls are just having their hair curled." It 
was a lame reply. But as they were well aware, some of 
the nuns would believe them no matter what— though some, 
on the other hand, would not. To their infinite relief, this 
nun believed, going her way satisfied. 

The girls' consciences bothered them not a bit over the 
falsehood they had ali been party to. For them there was 
a strict and undeniable difTerence between lying and in- 
vention. And this, in view of the harrowing circumstances, 
they felt was no more than legitimate invention. 

ODO 

If smoking proved Agnes' greatest achievement at Eden 
Hall, acting provided her most ignominious failure. Poor 
Agnes was consumed by an ardent desire to act. She could 
act; she kneiv she could. On the nights before an impend- 
ing performance by the school dramatic group, as she lay 
in her reassuringly screened-in bed dreaming of what she 
might do, Agnes went over ali the parts in the coming pro- 
duction. It was then that her strong memory stood her 
in good stead. With ali the zeal and passion she was capa- 
ble of mustering, she would storm through the various 



28 AGNES REPPLIER 

roles that almost always had been assigned to other girls. 

Once or twice it happened that she was given a chance 
to display her art. But each time she was either overcome 
by self-consciousness that left her glued to the spot, speech- 
less before the expectant audience, or she became so 
wrapped up in what was going on about her that she 
would never even realize when her cue to perform had 
arrived. 

On one occasion Agnes had missed her cue as a result 
of living a certain play, in which she had a minor role, 
far beyond its actual worth. When her time to speak a 
few lines had come, she was unable to utter a word. After 
the play was over, Madame Rayburn, the dramatic coach, 
had tried to console the miserable Agnes: 

"The scene was not spoiled," she said judiciously; "it went 
off remarkably well. But I did think, Agnes, that, although 
you cannot act, you had too much interest in the play, and too 
much feeling for the situation, to forget entirely where you 
were, or what you were about. There, don't cry! It didn't 
matter much!" 

But Agnes was inconsolable: 

Don't cry! As well say to the pent-up dam, "Don't overflow!" 
or to the heaving lava-bed, "Don't leave your comfortable 
crateri" Already my tears were raining over my blue tunic 
and yellow trousers. How could I— poor, inarticulate child— 
explain that it was because of my absorbing interest in the 
play, my passionate feeling for the situation, that I was now 
humbled to the dust ... ? 

© © © 

The library at Eden Hall was small and none too inspir- 
ing in Agnes' day. There were scores of children's books, 



"SWEET ABSURD1T1ES" 29 

novels of an innocuous nature to be sure, ali staunchly 
moral, ali determinedly elevating. But Agnes had gained 
her love of reading on stronger staff. Chambers' Miscel- 
lany, of ali the books in the school collection, appealed 
most to her. She found little use for the insipid pap de- 
signed to improve as it endeavored to entertain. 

From the time of her twelfth birthday when Mrs. Rep- 
plier had given her a copy of Childe Harold, Agnes' fa- 
vorite poet had been Byron. The library at Eden Hall was 
woefully lacking in the works of the romantic rebel, but 
Agnes knew the stories of Manfred, Don Juan, and the 
Childe by heart. She could spend hours merely in dream- 
ing about them or in relating the various adventures to 
her friends. 

The spirit of revolt in Manfred made it perhaps the 
most enthralling to her, although Don Juan was a very 
special delight. Curiously, the amorous Don never im- 
pressed Agnes particularly as far as his conquests in love 
were concerned. She had never been told, and it had never 
entered her head, that there might be something question- 
able about Don Juan's conduct. Most young girls learn 
about such matters far more rapidly from a few words of- 
fered on the sly by some initiated friend than they do 
from any amount or kind of reading. And so far she had 
escaped enlightenment. 

Once as she was deep in the relating of the story of Don 
Juan to one of her schoolmates, Agnes was cut short by 
the sudden, horrifled interruption of an upper-class stu- 
dent. She had just reached the incident of the Don's hid- 
ing in the bed of his inamorata when the older girl carne 
along. 



30 AGNES REPPL1ER 

"Minnie Repplier!" the proper prude exclaimed. "What- 
ever are you talking about! Do you knov) what you are 
saying?" And she turned away with quite an evident 
shudder. 

Agnes was angry and puzzled. In the first place, the 
girl had called her "Minnie Repplier"— fighting words. In 
the second place, she had broken in at one of the best epi- 
sodes of the tale, thereby utterly destroying the speli. And 
in the third place, she had really seemed shocked. Over 
what? That Agnes could not say. If Don Juan wanted to 
climb into the young lady's bed, that was his business. It 
certainly provided an adequate place in which to hide. She 
pondered the matter for some time, arriving at no sensible 
answer other than that the older girl just did not enjoy 
poetry. 

o © © 

Agnes had now been attending the convent school for 
two years. Here she had made one of the significant friend- 
ships of her life, that with Elizabeth Robins. Here her ai- 
ready awakened love of literature had been quickened and 
stimulated not only by the books at hand, slight though 
for the most part they may have been, but also by her con- 
tact with the older girl who was quite as avid a reader as 
she. At Eden Hall also she had come to assert herself, to 
put Minnie, the shy, awkward little girl, behind her for- 
ever. Agnes she now had become, a power, a leader her- 
self even in competition with Elizabeth, an undeniable in- 
fluence on the other children around her. Most of ali, at 
the convent she had first tried her hand at writing, and 
had won the praise and encouragement of her teachers 
for her efforts. 



"SWEET ABSURDITIES" 31 

Somewhat on the other side of the ledger, Agnes had 
revealed herself in school as one not easily coerced into 
doing that for which she had no particular liking. Not in- 
frequent were her rebellions against the nuns. Although a 
loyal friend to those she had chosen for her own, Agnes 
was not one to hestitate over dismissing the objects of her 
scorn with devastating frankness. "Frances was first blue 
ribbon, first medallion, and head of the Children of Mary. 
There was nothing left for her but beatification . . . " 
Agnes preferred the less angelic. Distinctly human her- 
self, she disliked youthful piety. "There is nothing so sour- 
ing to the temper as abstinence," she felt. And she included 
abstaining from mischief along with such orthodox items 
as candy and desserts. 

Two lifelong traits were brought to light during Agnes* 
stay at Eden Hall: courage and open intolerance of that 
which she considered stupid. It took courage for her to 
assert her independence. It took courage for her to rebel 
when not to have rebelled would have cost her far less trou- 
ble. It took courage for her to stamp stupidity as intolerable 
and then, not satisfied with mere lip service to her creed, 
to act accordingly. 

ODO 

But the role of rebel was a dangerous one in a convent 
school in the 1860's, especially when one was only four- 
teen. And so it happened that in July 1869, after she had 
finished her second year at Eden Hall, Agnes was dismissed. 
The note sent to her parents was diplomane but none the 
less adamant: for the good of the school as well, of course, 
as of Agnes herself (on that point it insisted), the Reverend 
Mother felt . . . 



32 AGNES REPPLIER 

Just why Agnes should have been singled out of ali the 
little rebels there at the Sacred Heart is not altogether 
clear. She had not been the only troublemaker, perhaps 
not even the greatest. Her parents were not a little con- 
founded by the distinction their daughter had achieved. 
And even she was at a loss to explain the dubious honor. 
But whatever the certain reason behind her dismissal, the 
convent days for Agnes were at an end. For her a very real 
world had collapsed. 

She was back at home again, permanently this time, and 
a dull place in comparison it appeared to be. Elizabeth, 
Marie, Tony: ali were of the irretrievable past now, or so 
at least they seemed. There were no young people at home 
but Mary and Louis. The one, having left the convent in 
per fé et form a year since, was righteously indignant over 
her fall from grace; and the other was more or less an in- 
valid. They would be slight comfort. 

No more exciting, stolen adventures with her friends. 
No more secret confidences. Just stupid, monotonous, 
everlasting home duties. The prospect was far from pleas- 
ing. Even the memories of the past two years could hardly 
compensate for the arid waste the future promised to be. 

© © © 

If Agnes was in any degree crushed by the turn in her 
fortunes, Mrs. Repplier, who undoubtedly had sufFered 
more than any other member of the family over the dis- 
grace, was by no means defeated. The girl had proved too 
much for the nuns? Perhaps she could be brought to see the 
proper light by someone not so easy to get around. And 
Mrs. Repplier felt she knew just the right person. 



"SWEET ABSURDITIES" 33 

In the fall of 1869, Agnes Irwin, who later was to be 
called as the first Dean of Radcliffe College, took over on 
Penn Square, Philadelphia, a school for girls. Mrs. Rep- 
plier had been acquainted with the Irwin family for some 
years. She knew that Miss Irwin, though stili quite a young 
woman, was not only a capable teacher, but a strict dis- 
ciplinarian as well. There would certainly be no indul- 
gence of student whimsey at her school. 

Having made up her mind, Mrs. Repplier arranged for 
the enrolling of Agnes at the Irwin School. As the essay- 
ist once commented, fathers had practically nothing to say 
in such matters, and children might as well have been born 
deaf-mutes for ali they were allowed to make suggestions. 
But Agnes, scarcely recovered from the shock of having 
to leave Eden Hall, was in the main easily pleased. The 
truth of the situation was that she was eager for new friends 
such as she had made at the convent. Another school should 
mean another opportunity. 

o omo 

Miss Irwin's School was on the whole quite dirferent 
from the Convent of the Sacred Heart. To begin with, 
Miss Irwin herself was far removed from any of the nuns 
at Eden Hall, and therein lay the real heart of the differ- 
ence. Miss Irwin had a profound belief in education and, 
startlingly enough for her day, was most emphatically not 
of the opinion that women could learn too much. 

In view of her convictions, it is only naturai that the 
institution Miss Irwin managed should have been in no 
sense of the term a "finishing school." It was a place de- 
voted to work, to study. Nonsense in any form was not to 



34 AGNES REPPLIER 

be tolerated there. Professionally Miss Irwin was deter- 
mined, almost grim in her intransigence. Personally— to 
use Agnes Repplier's own words— she was "about as de- 
monstrative as an iceberg." Yet for ali her austerity, she was 
loved dearly by her pupils. And no one of them was to 
become more fond of her than the little girl who so re- 
cently had been expelled from the convent. 

Agnes f ound her studies under Miss Irwin much as they 
had been at Eden Hall, save for one all-important differ- 
ence. At this new school there was not the faintest hint of 
dilettantism. Miss Irwin was a scholar with a scholar's 
point of view. She always sent her pupils to "headquarters" 
for their work, and by this she meant that they should 
go to the originai sources. Consequently her charges were 
imbued from the start with a deep and sincere respect 
for proper authority, particularly in matters literary. 

Beyond these things, Miss Irwin's School was unlike the 
convent in several other more obvious ways. It was small, 
numbering only about thirty pupils or so when Agnes be- 
gan her work there. And it was a day school for the most 
part, except for one or two special boarding students. Ali 
this meant that classwork was under Constant dose scru- 
tiny and that homework became a matter of direct, per- 
sonal responsibility on the part of both parent and pupil. 
Though she was not pleased by any means over the ne- 
cessity, each day Agnes carne dutifully home with her 
share of studying to do under the supervision of her 
watchful mother. 

O © D 

As Agnes was to realize later on, she had the type of 
mind Miss Irwin heartily disliked. She was entirely com- 



"SWEET ABSURD1T1ES" 35 

placent, certain she was going to do a very great deal. 
And from Miss Irwin she received absolutely no encour- 
agement on this score. 

Agnes soon found out, too, that Miss Irwin could not 
be put off with a thin excuse such as many times had 
worked wonders at the convent. Once when Miss Irwin 
asked her a question, she replied, "Fui sorry. I forget." 
The answer, with just the correct modulation, would on 
occasion at least have served in her earlier school days. 
But not so with Miss Irwin. "You have a tenacious mem- 
ory," she told Agnes sharply, "and you have no business 
forge tting anything." 

If on occasion a student at Miss Irwin's School tried to 
get out of any work assigned to her by one of the few 
subordinate teachers, she soon found herself face to face 
with the headmistress who took charge until a change in 
the pupil's work was effected. And here only, in the case 
of Agnes, did Miss Irwin have to acknowledge defeat. 
Agnes had been having trouble with mathematics. Every- 
one comes upon opened and closed doors in life, and math- 
ematics, she was sure, was a completely closed door to 
her. So she had informed her teacher, and the teacher in 
desperation had gone to Miss Irwin. As a consequence, 
the headmistress supervised Agnes' work throughout one 
whole, painful, seemingly never-ending week. 

At the end of the time, having managed no appreciable 
improvement in her pupil's accomplishments in this par- 
ticular field of study, Miss Irwin announced coldly, "Agnes, 
you did yourself a grave injustice when you labeled your- 
self 'stupid' in mathematics. You are simply impervi- 
ous to mathematics." And she emphasized the word 
uncomfortably. 



36 AGNES REPPLIER 

For ali she might have been afraid of her on occasion, 
Agnes carne eventually to admire Miss Irwin completely. 
Even at the time of her schooling, she recognized the fact 
that, as she would say, Miss Irwin "saw things thoroughly 
and she saw them whole." For her part Miss Irwin appar- 
ently realized that Agnes was an unusual child. But the 
teacher discovered also that she was easily turned aside, 
and she was determined from the beginning that the girl 
should not allow herself to be turned aside. 

At first Miss Irwin was impatient with Agnes. Now and 
again she was cuttingly caustic. 

On one occasion she asked a pupil if she knew how the 
crowns of England and Scotland carne to be united. The an- 
swer was correctly given. James the Sixth of Scotland and 
First of England was the monarch who united them. De- 
lighted to observe any scrap of knowledge that had not been 
part and parcel of the day's lesson, Miss Irwin asked: "And 
whose son was he?" The child pondered for a moment, and 
then said: "I know that Queen Elizabeth was his mother, and 
I did know who was his father, but I have forgotten." "I 
wish you would try and recollect," observed Miss Irwin 
persuasively. "It would throw an interesting light on history." 

And again: 

A clever little girl, who thought as well of herself as clever 
little girls are wont to do, informed her class that "Lycidas" 
was an elegy on John Keats. When the discrepancy of dates 
was somewhat sharply pointed out to her, she said with the 
air of one making a generous admission, and rather expect- 
ing to be contradicted: "It was stupid of me I know." To 
which Miss Irwin made weary rejoinder: "Don't dwell on 
the obvious. Go on with your reading." 

Agnes was the unfortunate pupil involved on both 
counts, the object of Miss Irwin's scorn on these and many 
other occasions. 



"SWEET ABSURDITIES" 37 

In the main, Miss Irwin's School was almost equally 
both a disappointment and a source of real pleasure to 
Agnes. It was not another Eden Hall, as she had fondly 
hoped it would be. Now school was a dull matter of daily 
trips back and forth, of stupid evenings under the lamp- 
light at 2005 Chestnut Street, of endless tasks about the 
house in free time. What she would not have given to 
have been back at the conventi How she dreamed, calling 
on her staunch memory and most ardent imaginative 
powers! But it was no use. The convent days were over. 

The present, real and uncomfortably changed from the 
blissfulness of what had been, was the insolvable problem 
now. Not that Agnes really disliked the work at Miss 
Irwin's. Not that she had made no new friends. But the 
school could not hold a candle to the convent as far as she 
was concerned. At Miss Irwin's there was no Marie, no 
Tony,. and most lamentable of ali, no Elizabeth. 

That there were certain compensations for her at the 
Irwin School Agnes Repplier could not deny. And far 
from the least of these was the headmistress herself. Daily 
she became of more and more importance to the young 
girl. Even in her most rebellious moments, moments when 
she was exasperated out of ali patience because she could 
not do as she pleased when she pleased, Agnes was con- 
scious of Miss Irwin. And there were times when Miss 
Irwin took on almost godlike proportions in Agnes' eyes. 
She was everlastingly grateful to her mentor for the months 
she spent with her over Childe Harold. And the day Miss 
Irwin gave Agnes a copy of Keats's poems to read by her- 
self wiped out with a single sweep many of the faults she 
had found to carp about. 

Of even more immediate appeal to Agnes than the 



38 AGNES REPPLIER 

headmistress were the books she uncovered at Miss Irwin's 
School. Here she discovered that one was never at a loss 
for something to read, something important, something 
satisfying. No longer the almost Constant recourse of ne- 
cessity to Chambers and his dozen-times exhausted Miscel- 
lany. Here there were books aplenty, books to be read 
and reread. 

But without doubt the greatest benefit Agnes derived 
from her attendance at the Irwin School was in her writ- 
ing. Upon the merest suggestion at the convent she had 
written verse— dearest of ali to young hearts— stories, 
sketches, even plays. But it was at Miss Irwin's that she 
received her first important criticism. The headmistress 
knew that Agnes' book interest could indicate a corre- 
sponding interest in writing. Before long she found that 
it did, and so she provided the girl with every opportu- 
nity to exercise her youthful talent. 

Not always was the teacher pleased with her pupil's 
work. And never did Miss Irwin unbend sufrlciently to 
the bandying of idle pleasantries merely for the sake 
of being agreeable. She was not one to hestitate over 
speaking her mind even when to do so might ofTend. But 
she never allowed her sharp wit or incisive satire to come 
between Agnes and what even then seemed might possi- 
bly be her work in life. 

If writing was to be Agnes' career, then there was only 
one road to success and that lay clearly markcd. This 
road and none other would Miss Irwin allow her charge 
to follow, and she sought with every power at her com- 
mand to block any alluring bypaths. It was in the field 
of writing she was most determined that Agnes should not 
go astray. 

ODO 



"SWEET ABSURD1TIES" 39 

But ali was not sweetness and light for Agnes at Miss 
Irwin's School by any manner of means. The fact that Miss 
Irwin was a friend of her mother's or that the headmis- 
tress seemed to take a special interest in her literary en- 
deavors was no reason for Agnes to suppose that she was 
immune to the discipline of routine studies at the School. 
Now and again Agnes wished that Miss Irwin, by virtue 
of her interest in her, was not so constantly aware of 
her presence. Because Miss Irwin was, Agnes sometimes 
felt that she was not a little imposed upon. It was difficult, 
even impossible, for her to slip by whatever the matter at 
hand. 

There were in consequence not a few clashes along the 
way, minor forays, to be sure, from which Miss Irwin in- 
variably carne off the victor. It was not fair, the girl 
thought. I cannot alivays be wrong, she would teli her- 
self. And on occasion, to test the strength of her wings, 
Agnes would set out deliberately to express her independ- 
ence. Sometimes she frankly defied the headmistress, quite 
openly baiting her in the process. Perhaps at these times 
Miss Irwin saw through the ruse. Possibly she was en- 
tirely conscious of the act going on around her. But for the 
most part she endured the gùTs outbursts with a calm- 
ness that could have been born only of the knowledge 
that, after ali, she did have the upper hand. 

© o © 

For a year and a half Agnes met the problems and de- 
lighted in the joys of Miss Irwin's School before the in- 
evitable happened. The patience of the nuns at Eden Hall 
had been exhausted after two years of near rebellion on 
the part of the little girl. It was small wonder that the not 



40 AGNES REPPL1ER 

nearly so patient Miss Irwin gave out after only three 
terms. The marvel may be that she had been able to keep 
control of herself so long. But the end carne again for 
Agnes, and this time it really was the end. 

One day in class Miss Irwin gave Agnes a certain book 
to study. And quite suddenly Agnes decided that she was 
not interested in studying that particular book. Indeed, 
she was not interested one iota in that particular book. 
With characteristic independence she tossed it on the floor. 
She would not read, she would not study, and that was that. 

A stricken silence f ollowed, marked at length by a sharp 
intake of breath on the part of ali the other assembled 
students. Miss Irwin's dignity as she retrieved the volume 
so mutinously discarded was awesome beyond belief. But 
nothing was said at the time, nothing was done, no punisti- 
ment was meted out— just then. 

That afternoon, after she had returned from school, 
Agnes saw Miss Irwin come along Chestnut Street and 
turn up the steps before her home. She thought little of it; 
Miss Irwin was a friend and frequent visitor. She thought 
little, too, of the fact that Miss Irwin and her mother 
were closeted for quite a time in the front parlor. She 
thought even less about the whole affair when dinner 
passed without mention of the afternoon's performance. 
The intermittent qualms of the afternoon and early eve- 
ning grew less and less disturbing. That night Agnes slept 
without a twinge of regret or tremor of insecurity. 

The next morning when it carne time for her to get ready 
for school, Agnes put on her hat and coat and gathered up 
her pencils and books. She descended the stairs from her 
room as she had done on countless previous mornings, 



"SWEET ABSURDIT1ES" 41 

prepared to offer a hasty farewell to her mother waiting 
in the lower hall. Suspecting nothing, she missed entirely 
the drawn look about her mother's mouth, the thinness of 
her lips. 

"Where are you going?" Mrs. Repplier asked the girl 
who was about to slip past her. 

What was wrong, Agnes wondered. Could she possibly 
have forgotten? "To school," she whispered with becom- 
ing if unnatural meekness. 

"You can take your hat and coat off," Mrs. Repplier con- 
tinued in a disturbingly quiet way, "because you are not 
going back to school." 

"Not going to school?" It sounded incredible! 

"No, you are not going to school— now or ever again. 
Miss Irwin carne yesterday to say she had borne quite 
enough." 

Agnes was shocked into defiance. "I don't think Miss 
Irwin had anything to bear," she said. 

"I can judge only by what I have had to bear myself." 
And Mrs. Repplier turned majestically away. 

Agnes was dumfounded. But she knew even in that hor- 
rible moment that dismissal from Miss Irwin's School was 
not the blow leaving Eden Hall had been. Although she 
realized fully that she would miss the school, although in 
a sense she hated to leave, stili she felt a stirring sense of 
exhilaration over Miss Irwin's having turned her out, as 
she would say, "neck and crop." After ali, there was 
something in that, she decided, something quite satisfactory. 



CHAPTER III 

Career 

1872-1884 

OOOOOODOODOOOOOOOODDOOOO 

For the most part Agnes Repplier was not unduly wor- 
ried over her dismissal from Miss Irwin's School. Like 
many moderately clever girls, she thought she could edu- 
cate herself, and she turned at once to a self-devised course 
in reading. She decided then and there that she would be- 
come a scholar. But before very long, she discovered that 
she really could not educate herself in any formai sense 
of the word at ali. Little more was possible for her than 
to make herself well read. 

Agnes Repplier did not quite agree with Elizabeth Rob- 
ins who once remarked, "I never learned anything after 
I was sixteen, but by way of compensation I knew it ali 
then." But she was confìdent of her ability. She would never 
have thought of admitting that leaving Miss Irwin's had 
been anything even remotely approaching a misfortune. 

In time Agnes Repplier realized that, although she had 
high ambitions, she lacked the necessary means to their 
realization. She wanted an education, but she had no one 
to help her to it. Alone, she merely floundered. What she 
was to attain, she felt in later years, was no more than a 

42 



CAREER 43 

tolerable framework on a weak foundation. If she did have 
to admit to herself now and then that it is no easy job 
to keep up study by oneself and that one good mind to 
lead her would have been everything, stili she kept bravely 
going, reading the more, the more alone she felt herself 
to be. 

Miss Irwin or her mother could have meant a great 
deal to her, but the young girl had willfully cast them 
both off. And Mrs. Repplier was determined that no longer 
should she waste time and money on this rebel daughter's 
education. Two schools had been enough; there would 
be no more. Miss Irwin, though she could see Mrs. Rep- 
plier's point of view readily enough, was horrifìed at the 
thought of leaving Agnes to nothing more certain than 
her own devices and a somewhat defiant determination to 
show her elders that they had been mistaken in what had 
appeared to be her undependability at school. Frequently 
she would urge Mrs. Repplier to reconsider— though she 
herself never ofTered to reinstate the girl in her school. But 
no, Mrs. Repplier had made up her mind, and that was the 
end to it. 

ODO 

A few months more than sixteen, Agnes Repplier set 
out on her own. French, thanks to her mother's early train- 
ing and the convent's efforts, she had well in hand. Latin 
she read with ease. Horace was for her a Constant joy, 
the delight, she felt, of every right-thinking mind. But 
English letters remained then and always her main source 
of stimulation. In them she read unceasingly and with an 
amazing ability to flnd the distinctly uncommonplace. 



44 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Memoirs and biographies gave her more pleasure than 
fiction, and poetry offered her its wealth of beautiful 
exactness. 

From whatever she read, even in those early days, she 
extracted what she felt to be the best, storing up ideas, 
phrases, whole sentences that were to feed her mind and 
pen throughout her entire career. Although she had not 
then begun to keep the notebooks she found so valuable 
in after years, her memory was strong and fresh, and she 
filled it with her random, useful gleanings. Later in life, 
she read mainly what may have been necessary to her trade. 
But at the beginning it was a happy feasting in every di- 
rection, with the young girl seemingly never sated. 

ODO 

While she was filling her mind and heart with the won- 
ders of literature, Agnes Repplier was also trying her hand 
at writing. Quite understandably, at that time she scarcely 
thought of herself, she would say, as one day becoming 
a famous anything, let alone a famous author. But she 
could no more keep from pen and paper than she could 
successfully steel herself against opening a new book. 

Words were the only things she understood, Agnes Rep- 
plier declared; she had a "passion for words." She experi- 
enced the keenest pleasure of ali when she was putting 
them down on paper, one after another, in orderly, pre- 
cise fashion. Words, she felt, are like jewels, and she 
handled them as carefully as a jeweler his precious stones. 
She believed in the mot just e, and with solitary diligence 
she would search for it, depending on nothing but her 
books and her inner sense of rightness. 



CAREER 45 

The youthful writer did ali her work quite by herself, 
and few persons indeed ever saw her early attempts. Like 
most beginning authors, she was timid about revealing her 
efforts. But to her chagrin, she found that she could not 
keep her work entirely to herself as she devoutly wished 
she could. Now and again her mother would insist upon 
being shown what she was doing. 

Fortunately, as Agnes Repplier saw the matter, Mrs. 
Repplier was in general much too busy with her household 
cares to bother to any great extent with her. Mary's days 
for some time now had been given over largely to teach- 
ing Louis the fundamentals of the three R's, in the course 
of which, incidentally, she was exhibiting no striking dis- 
play of patience. Her father, as always, was far more con- 
cerned with providing for the family than he was in the 
individuai members of it. And so Agnes Repplier read and 
wrote undisturbed, largely unmindful of the course of 
things around her. 

ODO 

One day Mr. Repplier announced simply and undramat- 
ically that he had lost his money. The essayist remembered 
that he was very cairn, quiet, and rather pathetically 
ashamed. But not so her mother. She was anything but cairn. 
How did it happen, she wanted to know. And so Mr. Rep- 
plier related the short, sorry business: he had sold his coal 
holdings. Mrs. Repplier was shocked and hurt that he had 
done such a thing without even mentioning it to her and 
said as much. What had he done with the money? He had 
invested it in iron. And who had advised him to do that? 
Mr. Repplier told her: an Irishman, a redheaded Irishman, 



46 AGNES REPPL1ER 

and worse luck, a Protestant to boot. Now Mrs. Repplier 
had the answer. You knouo you can't trust an Irishman, she 
told her husband. As for a Protestant— well, that made the 
chicanery doubly certain. And there was nothing left then? 
Mr. Repplier was afraid not— nothing but the house. He 
had invested his money in a foundry down on the Dela- 
ware River, and the venture had proved unsuccessful. 

Immediately Mrs. Repplier assumed full charge of the 
situation. Something had to be done, and Mrs. Repplier 
took it for granted that she herself was the only one capa- 
ble of doing it. At least the house was saved. Eventually 
no doubt they would have to give it up. It would be far 
too expensive for them to maintain under the circumstances. 
But for the time being they would stay where they were. 

Mr. Repplier said that he had thought he could perhaps 
go back into the coal business as representative for one of 
the larger New York flrms. It would be only on a commis- 
sion basis, but it would be something. Yes, Mrs. Repplier 
agreed, it would be something. 

Next she turned to the girls. Louis was after ali stili only 
a child. "Mary," she announced firmly, "you can teach. 
But," she added in warning, "you'll have to show more 
patience than you have with Louis." Mary, it seemed, where 
business was concerned, understood that patience would 
most certainly be a more than necessary virtue. She prom- 
ised to play her role with Griselda-like endurance. 

There had been a day when Mrs. Repplier liked to sug- 
gest that her younger daughter take the veil. One conse- 
crated to the church in the immediate family would be a 
mark of distinction. But Agnes Repplier knew she could 
not become a nun merely because her mother wanted her 



CAREER 47 

to be one. "Why, Fd lose my immortai soul," was her com- 
ment. And for ali concerned, it had been wisc of Mrs. 
Repplier not to have pressed the point. 

"As for you, Agnes," her mother went on, brushing 
aside any earlier thoughts of an unproductive life for the 
girl in a nunnery, "you, of course, can write." Mrs. Rep- 
plier was very sure of that. There was no question in her 
voice, and indeed the younger Agnes was perfectly willing 
to offer her little art in the interest of family fortune. She 
was delighted that at last she would be able to show her 
worth, not that she had ever been particularly bothered 
over what others thought of her, but because now she knew 
she could write inasmuch as she would have to write. From 
that very moment she was flred with both desire and need, 
the best of ali possible goads for the artist. 

ODO 

Agnes Repplier, more than ever the determined writer, 
worked hard, giving over her whole mornings without fail, 
then resting in the afternoons and evenings. She was slow— 
more remarkable for that than for anything else, she would 
say— composing the first rough draft straight through, 
"working like mad" for a few days while her idea was stili 
fresh in mind. Then she would go back for revisions, a 
system that stayed with her throughout her entire career. 
She always had plenty of words; she liked them, consid- 
ered them marvelous things. But although she thought then 
and ever that English is the best of ali known languages, 
she declared it "a hell of a nuisance to get it right." 

Agnes Repplier knew— it seemed she had never not 
known— that somehow, somewhere inside her there was 



48 AGNES REPPLIER 

something. But she brought it out only with a great deal 
of trouble. She understood how to write e veri if she did 
not have anything to say, and half-seriously she would ad- 
mit many years after to never knowing which is the better 
attribute for an author to possess. She had no particular 
message certainly in the early days, but she could phrase 
what she did have to offer surely and well. 

Though it ali may have been a struggle, the essayist was 
equal to the task. She had ambition and she had books. And 
in addition, there was the ever-present pressure to earn 
money, though in this regard she was always careful not 
to write down merely for the sake of income. Money was 
a real need, but she knew from the start that reputation was 
even dearer. "God forbid that I should e ver degrade writ- 
ing for the sake of money!" she would say over and over 
again. 

In the beginning, Agnes Repplier earned five or ten dol- 
lars, on rare occasions fifteen, for the little sketches, stories, 
and poems that found their way into the Philadelphia news- 
papers. Not much perhaps, but at least it was encouraging. 
Though she tried each one, ofTering material to any editor 
who would take it, the Sunday Times, she discovered, was 
most receptive of ali the city journals of her time. And 
fortunately her parents evidenced no qualms over her pub- 
lishing in a paper designed to be hawked on the Lord's Day. 
Their only concern, she has said, was over the amount of 
money her work would bring. If something she wrote was 
rejected by one paper, she would send it to another, going 
from big to little, till flnally it was accepted. Remarkable 
as it may seem, there was never to be anything ali the way 
from those very first serious attempts down through the 



CAREER 49 

full and productive years that was not eventually published 
somewhere. 

In after years, Agnes Repplier carne to realize that she 
had had nothing like the competition in her apprentice days 
that she would have had fifty years later, and she felt her- 
self to have been undeniably lucky. She believed that luck 
plays a large part in anyone's success as a writer, and freely 
admitted that it certainly had in her own. Her great good 
fortune, she felt, was that she had come at a time when New 
England had plenty to offer and when yet there was stili 
room elsewhere. It is true that she had experienced few of 
the troubles authors are supposed to have at the start. But 
then, she ne ver expected to jump to the top in one mighty 
leap. She was quite satisfied to work her way up, and she 
had both the courage and determination to persist in her 
slow if steady climb. 

Agnes Repplier may have been very young and overcon- 
fident in the beginning, but she was as certain then that she 
could write as she was after she had won her place. She 
experimented carefully in her early writing, following no 
model, feeling her way cautiously. And in it ali, she tried 
to do her best. Hers was an unbounded admiration for Eng- 
lish. She endeavored with ali the artistry at her command 
to develop what from her extensive and well-chosen read- 
ing she had come to consider to be a good style. This un- 
compromising excellence she strove to inject into ali that 
she wrote: into the early essays, short, simple pieces con- 
cerned mainly with the little of life she knew; into the 
stories that somehow just would not turn out to her ex- 
pectations; into the poems which were few in number, for, 
she has said, she never flourished in poetry and was as a 



50 AGNES REPPLIER 

result inclined rather to keep these productions f or the most 
part to herself . 

Whatever the matter in hand, Agnes Repplier worked 
hard always and with a depth of sincerity far beyond her 
years to achieve a precision, a nicety, a clearness of ex- 
pression that would be eifectively literary as well as pleas- 
ingly entertaining. If forni was to count more than content, 
the form at least would be excellent. 

© Q © 

Some six years after Mr. Repplier made his momentous 
announcement concerning his money affairs, he and his 
wife decided that it would be far more practical for them 
ali to move to a smaller house and try to rent their home 
on Chestnut Street. Mr. Repplier was failing in health, and 
his commission business in coal was not overly prosperous. 
Then, too, though they tried valiantly enough, neither 
daughter was earning a great deal as yet. It was, Agnes 
Repplier would say, a rather gasping existence they led at 
this time. 

And so the problem of finding a new home arose. The 
family looked here and there throughout the city. They 
would not even consider moving from Philadelphia; in this 
they thought much as the essayist was to think in her more 
mature years. After ali, Philadelphia was home, and they 
were above everything else Philadelphians. Finally, after 
persistent seeking, they carne upon a place in West Phila- 
delphia on Locust Street a few doors beyond Fortieth. A 
three-story, tight-row house— a far cry from 2005 Chest- 
nut Street— with a front piazza on which, they pointed out 
in an eflort to console themselves, Mr. Repplier might sit 



CAREER 51 

in the summer months, and a tiny patch of garden in the 
rear: not the best by any means, but they had to agree it 
would serve their purpose. 

They prepared forthwith to move: eliminating, combin- 
ing, packing, unpacking. Ali the servants of more affluent 
days except the cook had long since been reluctantly dis- 
missed. But even though it was something of a pinch to keep 
her on, Julia— famed for her kidney stews— journeyed out 
with the f amily. 

ODO 

Established shortly on the very last fringes of civilization, 
as she most emphatically considered anything west of the 
Schuylkill to be, Agnes Repplier took up her work in the 
second-floor front room at 4015 Locust Street. No matter 
where she might find herself, the writing must continue. 
If ever a fortune was to be made, small as it might be, she 
saw that she apparently was the one destined to make it. 
She had the promise and the will. She must be the means. 

West Philadelphia was not without its real drawbacks. 
Mary Repplier's pupils ali lived in town, and consequently 
each day she had to pack off to the "City" to keep up her 
work. Her mother would joke about it, saying that Mary 
traveled like a milkman from door to door. But it was no 
joke, especially in the winter months, with waiting on a 
windy, snowy corner for a horsecar an uncomfortable 
necessity. 

Agnes Repplier found it a great inconvenience to live 
such a distance from the libraries in the center of town, and 
she had a well-grounded mistrust of the circulating variety, 
a mistrust aided and abetted by her mother and fostered 



52 AGNES REPPLIER 

as well by her training under Miss Irwin. The Library of 
the University of Pennsylvania was quite near at hand, but 
it was not one with which she was familiar— not like the 
Library Company, with its gloomy but amazingly full 
Ridgway Branch on South Broad Street.* Miss Repplier 
disliked jaunting to and fro— frequently she was not equal 
to it physically— and she longed for the easy days when a 
trip to the library had been a matter of only a few minutes. 

© © © 

Elizabeth Robins, following her graduation from Eden 
Hall, had taken up her friendship with Agnes Repplier 
again. Miss Robins had turned to writing seriously some 
time before her friend, and she had made enviable strides. 
But then, Charles Godfrey Leland (no blood relative, 
though she called him "uncle") helped her whenever he 
could. Agnes Repplier remembered that a few years later 
it was he who sent one of Elizabeth Robins' papers off to 
the Atlantic Monthly, and thereby brought about her first 
appearance in that magazine. 

Perhaps on occasion Miss Repplier regretted that she had 
no one "to give her a boost now and then," but in the main, 
she rather enjoyed walking alone. Whatever she would ac- 
complish, she would teli herself, would be on her very 
own, with no one else dividing the credit. Stili, Elizabeth 
Robins was getting somewhere— there was no denying that 
— whereas even now she was little better than an amateur 
with only a few minor feathers in her cap. 

* The essayist once wrote to a friend: "Of ali the misbegotten build- 
ings in the world the Ridgway Library is the worst. Dark, dismal, 
depressing, inconvenient, it is a haunting horror ..." 



CAREER 53 

Mrs. Repplier had told her younger daughter ali along 
that she would have a hard time of it establishing herself 
as a writer. But she encouraged her in her work because 
she knew it was ali she could do. She was perfectly sure 
that the girl could write, and more than that, she was per- 
fectly sure that she must. 

And Agnes Repplier herself realized as much as her 
mother that she could not afford to be discouraged. She 
found that there is nothing like the spur of necessity to 
drive one on. She was coming to see as well that what you 
are interests the world very little— unless, as she would 
say in the Philadelphia phrase, you come down from a 
"Signer." The world, she discovered, is moved only by 
what you do. And so she worked with ali the energy she 
could muster, taking her pleasures where she found them: 
in the fact that she was trying diligently; in the small 
amounts of money that carne in recompense for her efforts; 
even in the excitement of seeing her name in print. 

© o o 

One day, almost ten years after Mrs. Repplier had laid 
down the law to her daughter in the matter of her writing, 
a short story of Agnes Repplier's was accepted by the 
Catholic World, the magazine established some twenty 
years before by Father Hecker. Isaac Thomas Hecker early 
in his life had been interested in both the transcendentalist 
experiment at Brook Farm and in Bronson Alcott's colony 
at Fruitlands. He had been an intimate friend of Thoreau, 
whom, after his own conversion in 1844, he had tried to 
bring into the Catholic Church. In 1865 he had founded 
the Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle— known gen- 



54 AGNES REPPLIER 

erally as the Paulist Order— and some seven years later 
had begun publishing the Catholic World of which he 
acted as editor. 

January 1881— a date to remember! And the amount re- 
ceived, fifty dollars, was perhaps the most gratifying re- 
ward Agnes Repplier was ever to earn. Mrs. Repplier's 
single comment in the face of such success was a somewhat 
resentful "You never showed that to me" to which her 
daughter made no reply. A smile of mingled pride and su- 
periority seemed best at the time. 

"In Arcady" tells of a young man, a Mr. Bevan, who, 
having gone to the country one fall to recuperate from an 
illness, finds himself caught in a pretty party of children 
watched over by the angelic Natalie. After five weeks of 
the most genteel and indirect of courtships imaginable, Mr. 
Bevan proposes to the nursemaid, commenting somewhat 
loftily on the result: 

She was ready indeed to trust her precious future in my 
hands, but the surrender was made without one single word 
to ratify it. 

Before long, quite without the slightest provocation, 
Natalie dies, and the following autumn Air. Bevan, musing 
on what might ha ve been, murmurs: 

It is October now. The fruit hangs ripening on the trees; 
the red leaves deck the brown and wearied earth; the setting 
sun flared crimson in the west; but the golden gates of Arcady 
have closed upon me, and in this world I shall enter them no 
more. 

Sixty years after its publication, when the story was re- 
called to its author, she quoted this final paragraph without 



CAREER 55 

hcsitation, smiled, and remarked: "You might have thought 
I was a hundred!" 

o o o 

Not many months after the publication of "In Arcady," 
Mrs. Repplier was taken suddenly ili. For years apparently, 
though no one had suspected it, not even she herself, she 
had been the victim of cancer, a disease which later was to 
attack her writer-daughter. But whereas Agnes Repplier, 
when she first noticed the symptoms, was to submit to im- 
mediate and completely curative medicai attention, with 
Mrs. Repplier the disease had made such inroads upon her 
that no help was possible. 

Her family was distraught. Barely fìfty, she was not old. 
They were not prepared to meet this tragedy. But their 
regrets and wondering protestations could erlect no change. 
In August 1882, Mrs. Repplier died and was buried in the 
family vault at St. John's. 

Though each one of them felt Mrs. Repplier's passing as 
he had felt no other grief, it was her daughter Agnes 
who missed her more than any. When, four years later, 
she won her way into the Atlantic Monthly, she found her 
success like ashes in her mouth because her mother was not 
there to share it with her. 

And the loss remained. She once wrote to a friend in 
sympathy upon the death of his mother: "I am glad she 
saw your hardwon and well-merited success before she had 
to die. My mother, who pushed me steadily on, died be- 
fore anything was gained; and nothing has been the same 
to me since, because no one carcd as she cared." 

But the writing had to continue. Now more than ever 



56 AGNES REPPLIER 

Agnes Repplier realized her responsibilities. She must take 
care of her brother, her father, even her sister to some ex- 
tent. This was the charge her mother bequeathed to her. 

ODO 

The month following her mother's death, Agnes Rep- 
plier appeared again in the Catholic World, this time with 
a highly romantic story under the alluring title: "Last 
Pages in the Journal of Ève de la Tour D'Arraine." From 
the vantage of eight decades, its author was to dismiss it 
lightly as "clever if a little dull," though she thought even 
then that the name she had concocted f or its leading charac- 
ter was very beautiful. 

The "Last Pages" tells of a group of aristocrats awaiting 
execution in the melancholy days of the French Revolution. 
Ève is betrothed to Maurice, but apparently she does not 
love him, nor, as it turns out, is she even willing to pretend 
to any aff ection in order to make his last moments on earth 
happier. When an abbé, who has come to administer the 
last rites to the couple, offers out of the goodness of his 
heart to marry them so that they may meet death in the 
approved fashion as man and wife, Ève is quite indifTerent 
to the suggestion. Maurice inquires as to the depths of his 
lady's love, and she replies with amazing neutrality: 

". . . It is true, Maurice ... I cannot love you as you de- 
serve, and I ne ver could; but perhaps in heaven God will 
give me a larger heart, and you can enter into it . . . " 

The "Last Pages of the Journal of Ève de la Tour 
D'Arraine" is, in brief, fiction at its most romantic and ro- 
mance at its most traditional. Its author was trying earnest- 
ly, but she had far to go bef ore she would truly find herself . 



CAREER 57 

The month following the appearance of the "Last 
Pages," Agnes Repplier published an essay in the same 
magazine that, about a year before, had opened its friendly 
doors to her. "The Good Humor of the Saints," though 
not among her best by any means, is quite in what was to 
become her most effective vein. Here for the first time she 
made extensive use of her reading in the fashion that was 
to be characteristic of her later writing. She quotes from a 
number of writers: Thomas a Kempis, Abbé Retord, Car- 
dinal Newman, Bishop Tabert, and of ali other possibilities, 
Samuel Johnson, who must have felt himself something out 
of place in the company of such distinctly sanctified men. 

The purpose of this essay was to ofler the point of view 
that a sense of humor is not incompatible with other- 
worldliness. And the conclusion drawn is that "enough 
has been said to show that a keen sense of humor may keep 
pace with our spiritual advancement, each helping on the 
other." The importance of this paper lies not in any small 
wisdom it may present, not in the choice of authorities 
gathered in proof thereof, but in the fact that it is an 
essay, recognizably the progenitor of an almost countless 
number that were to follow. 

In the January 1883 issue of the Catholic World, Agnes 
Repplier published one of the very few poems of which 
she ever felt sufrlciently sure to offer to the reading public. 
"The Sphinx," inspired by the French painting "Le Repos 
en Egypte," picturing the Holy Family resting at night 
in the arms of the desert leviathan, reveals not only its 
author's sense of the dramatic— here well restrained— but 
also her careful play with words, the ability to choose her 
"jewels" with a delicate feeling for the nuances of poetry. 



58 AGNES REPPL1ER 

AH day I watch the stretch of burning sand, 
Ali night I brood beneath the golden stars; 

Amid the silence of a desolate land 
No touch of bitterness my reverie mars. 

Built by the proudest of a kingly line, 

Over my head the centuries fly fast: 
The secrets of the mighty dead are mine, 

I hold the key of a forgotten past. 

Yet ever hushed into a rapturous dream 

I see again that night— a halo mild 
Shone from the liquid moon; beneath her beam 

Travelled a tired young Mother and her Child. 

Within my arms she slumbered, and alone 
I watched the Infant. At my feet her guide 

Lav stretched o'er-wearied; on my breast of stone 
Rested the Crucifled. 

ODO 

The year following the publication of "The Sphinx," 
1884, marked a turning point in Agnes Repplier's career. 
It was this year that she met Father Hecker, who set her 
once and for ali on the road she was to follow with only 
occasionai deviation throughout her mature literary life. 
Miss Irwin may occupy the initial place and Mrs. Rep- 
plier a seat in the judges' stand, but Father Hecker holds 
rank as the first professional critic to concern himself with 
Agnes Repplier, essayist. 

Early in the year Agnes Repplier had published, again 
in Father Hecker's Catholic World, a quasi-tragic tale 
called "A Story of Nuremberg." About July 1884, she 
traveled to New York and by some happy chance met, 
face to face, the editor who had given her the opportu- 



CAREER 59 

nity shc had sought so long. Although she could not later 
recali ali the details of their meeting, evidently he had had 
his fili of Repplierean romance. Quite as evidently too, he 
saw in this young writer— she had turned twenty-nine the 
Aprii before— a talent wasted because so largely misdi- 
rected. Hence he gave her the advice that within a few 
years was to change Agnes Repplier, story writer of sorts, 
into Agnes Repplier, essayist par excellence. 

In a paper of a quarter century later, Miss Repplier tells 
of this meeting and its consequences: 

The first criticism I ever wrote was an essay on Mr. Ruskin 
(how many years has it been since essays on Ruskin had a 
market?) which was undertaken by the advice of Father 
Hecker, and was . . . published in The Catholic World. 
Father Hecker told me that my stories were mechanical, 
and gave no indication of being transcripts from life. "I 
fancy," he said, "that you know more about books than 
you do about life, that you are more a reader than an ob- 
server. What author do you read the most?" 

I told him "Ruskin"; an answer which nine out of ten 
studious girls would have given at that date. 

"Then," said he, "write me something about Ruskin, and 
make it brief." 

That essay turned my feet into the path which I have 
trodden laboriously ever since. 

Agnes Repplier thus learned that you have to write 
what is in you. And it is to her great credit that she re- 
ceived the editor's criticism in the spirit in which it had 
been ofTered. Thereafter, she was to be primarily an 
essayist, and fiction she was to consider almost as much a 
closed door to her as some years previously she had found 
mathematics to be. 

"Ruskin as a Teacher," the essay produced upon the 



60 AGNES REPPLIER 

suggestion of Father Hecker, is brief if nothing else. That 
much of the editor's advice had been taken quite to heart. 
But far more important than mere length is its form and 
content wherein its author proved that she had caught the 
full significance of Father Hecker 's injunction. 

In this criticai essay, Agnes Repplier tries first of ali to 
show that, in spite of Ruskin's anti-Catholic attitude in 
his earlier writings, he needs must turn sooner or later to 
the "holiness of Catholic art," and that "in ali his books 
we trace the change as it comes slowly and surely." Then, 
having justified her choice of subject, so to speak, she goes 
on to point out the lesson he teaches: that work done for 
base gain inevitably ends in failure. 

In conclusion, finding in the English critic's later books 
"a sense of failure which saddens without angering him," 
she asks: "What has been the secret of his failure?" But 
the question, no doubt quite wisely, she leaves largely un- 
answered save to suggest that "out of his own mouth is 
he condemned when, in ali humility, he acknowledges that 
sin unflts for labor." 

In the manner of presentation, "Ruskin as a Teacher" 
is familiar essay more than a little tinged with criticism. 
It reveals in its form, if not a mature artist, at least one who 
is entirely aware of the possibilities of her chosen type. 
Here is personal comment that transcends mere idiosyn- 
crasy; here is individuai viewpoint that is sufficiently 
broad to allow of further interpretation. There is not a 
great deal in it that is particularly arresting. But the essay 
is keen in its way, succinct in its expression, and originai 
in its appraisal. 

This paper on Ruskin is, obviously, of books rather 
than of life. And in that, no matter what its shortcomings, 



CAREER 61 

it is important because, to paraphrase Agnes Repplier's 
own words later, it represents the first real step of its 
author along the path which she trod laboriously ever 
after. 

"The Good Humor of the Saints," now nearly two 
years in the past, did little more than point one way out of 
a great many. "Ruskin as a Teacher" made fulfillment of 
the earlier promise almost if not quite a reality. 

© o © 

The December after "Ruskin as a Teacher" appeared, 
Agnes Repplier published in the Catholic World 2. second 
poem, "St. Mona's Lambs," and accompanied it in the 
same issue with an essay, "An Apostle of Doubt," written 
as obviously as the Ruskin paper in the pattern Father 
Hecker had set for her. 

The poem shows even more than "The Sphinx" Miss 
Repplier's ability to handle the simplest words for their 
fullest meaning: 

Deep in the Irish forest's leafy shade 

The holy Monacella knelt and prayed: 

"Have mercy, Lord, on what Thy hands have made!" 

And as she knelt a little, wounded hare, 

Sore spent and hotly press'd, carne limping there 

While rang the hounds' fierce baying through the air. 

One bitter glance the hunted creature threw, 
Then, as the pack carne straining into view, 
Quick to the virgin's pitying bosom flew. 

There nestled panting, while the royal maid, 

Uplifting her soft finger-tip, forbade 

The dogs' approach, and trembling they obeyed. 



62 AGNES REPPLIER 

And I have heard that ever since that day 
"St. Mona's lambs" the little children say, 
As from their path the wild hare scuds away. 

But if pursued, oh! then say pityingly, 
"God and St. Monacella succor thee!" 
And the dear Saint its advocate will be. 

"An Apostle of Doubt," far more important than the 
verse in view of the essayist's later work, is concerned 
with an account of the Reverend Hugh Reginald Haweis, 
an Englishman of considerable versatility, being, as he 
was, writer, artist, musician, and preacher of St. James's, 
Marylebone. His faith was Anglican, but Agnes Rep- 
plier sees in him for ali his seeming anti-Roman Cathol- 
icism an attitude toward the church both worthy and win- 
ning, even though possibly inadvertent as far as the clergy- 
man was concerned. 

ODO 

One aspect of ali these early writings— stories, poems, 
essays— that even the most casual reader of them could 
not fail to notice is that they are directed toward a Roman 
Catholic audience. Many years later, in a paper called 
"The Young Catholic Writer: What Shall He Do?" the 
Reverend Talbot Smith presented the case of a young 
writer friend of his who had failed apparently because of 
his faith. And he had come to the somewhat startling con- 
clusion that the beginning Catholic writer should "conceal 
his faith . . . lest it blight his literary reputation." 

In answer Agnes Repplier wrote: 

At the risk of being profoundly egotistical, I venture to 
orfer my own experience as a refutation of this casuistry; 



CAREER 63 

and I do so because I am a plain example of a "lesser light," 
whose publisher and public are assured— a small public, 
be it said, small as befits the modest nature of the illumina- 
tion. In the first place, far from being repulsed at the outset 
by Catholic magazines, as was Father Smith's unfortunate 
correspondent, I met with encouragement and a helping 
hand ... I have never in ali these years found it necessary 
to ignore, much less conceal, my faith. I could not if I 
would. When faith is the most vital thing in life, when it 
is the source of our widest sympathies and of our deepest 
feelings, when we owe to it whatever distinction of mind and 
harmony of soul we possess, we cannot push it intentionally 
out of sight without growing fiat and dry through insin- 
cerity. Nor have I ever been able to trace my failure on my 
part to an editor's distaste for my creed. When I have failed, 
it was because my work was bad— a common cause of col- 
lapse, which the author for the most part discredits. Nor 
have I ever been asked by editor or publisher to omit, to 
alter, or to modify a single sentence, because that sentence 
proclaimed my religious beliefs. It is not too much to say that 
I have found my creed to be a matter of supreme indiffer- 
ence to the rest of the world as it is a matter of supreme im- 
portance to me. Moreover, the one book [In Olir Convent 
Days~\ which I have written which has a Catholic back- 
ground—a book designed for my own people, and which 
I thought would be acceptable only to those who, having 
shared my experiences, would also share my pleasure in re- 
calling them— has been read with perfect good humor by a 
secular public. It is impossible for me to believe that anybody 
cares what catechism I studied when I was a child, or what 
Church I go to now. 

This is the considered opinion growing out of the ex- 
perience of a mature writer. It was Agnes Repplier's con- 
viction twenty-fìve years after her first appearance in the 
Catholic World. But, although it belongs to a relatively 
distant period, it is of interest here because it reveals an 
attitude patenti y hers at the start even if unexpressed in 
so many words until years later. 



64 AGNES REPPLIER 

In the beginning, it is clear that Miss Repplier was nat- 
urally not a little conscious of what would appeal. She 
was trying to sell, and as a consequence was tailoring her 
productions to her potential audience. Her church had not 
only not impeded, it had actually helped. 

Natalie of "In Arcady" is a Catholic. Ali the characters 
in "Last Pages in the Journal of Ève de la Tour D'Arraine" 
profess the same faith. With the exception of Johnson, 
every saint and near saint, every writer referred to in "The 
Good Humor of the Saints" is a Roman Catholic. "The 
Sphinx" tells of the Virgin and her Child. And so on 
throughout the list. In each effort the author was winning 
her way, so to speak, by means of her church. Although 
her subjects were neither doctrinal nor contro versial, it 
is not unfair to assert that she began her real career with 
and by the aid of her faith. 

As a consequence of Agnes Repplier's flnding in her 
belief not only a stimulating font of inspiration, but a 
satisfactory source of profit as well— though perhaps it 
would be not quite accurate to insist that such had been 
more than happy chance— her field had remained narrow 
and her appeal limited. The Catholic World had proved 
a staunch friend, and never was she to desert its pages 
even when other magazines were to give her a wider field. 
But hers was a more inclusive talent. She needed a greater 
outlet. 

Her debt of gratitude to this particular journal and its 
editor was deep. She had come far even in the three years 
since she had first reached its pages and had gone on to fol- 
low Father Hecker's sound advice. But although she may 
"never . . . have found it necessary to ignore, much less 



CAREER 65 

conceal" her creed, Agnes Repplier was to learn that not 
always could it be her Constant focal point— not always, 
that is, if she expected to test the full limits of her power. 
The Catholic World had in the main readers of one faith 
only. Father Hecker had given her the chance, and she 
had made the most of her excellent opportunity. But (to 
recast Boethius) "when the world is over come, the stars 
are yours," and Agnes Repplier had mastered the Catholic 
World. Now another world— perhaps even the star of the 
ancient philosopher— lay waiting for her. 



CHAPTER IV 

The Atlantic Monthly 

1885-1886 

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODOOOOO 

There was no doubt that Agnes Repplier had firmly estab- 
lished herself as a regular contributor to the Catholic 
World. Stories and essays of hers appeared in the Janu- 
ary, March, June, August, and October issues for 1885, 
followed by a poem in November of the same year. The 
essays showed a steady growth toward the final perfec- 
tion their author was to achieve, but the stories revealed 
little improvement over her first melodramatic attempt. 
"The Tragedy of Beningbrough Hall," for one, is replete 
with every properly appalling Gothic trapping: low, 
eerie cries; mysterious death; screams in the night; suicide 
—ali culminating in a sudden, retributory hanging. And 
the poem, "St. Winifred's Well," beginning: 

Caradoc, son of Alen, the king, 

Hath loved, and loved in vain. 
He planned a day of reckoning: 

"Give heed, O maid! till thy death-knell ring! 
Short shrift, ere thou be slain." 

although somewhat after the manner of an early English 
ballad, catches only a passing shadow of the innocent 
charm of "St. Mona's Lambs." 

66 






THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 67 

But slight though the intrinsic worth of these papers 
may be— particularly when viewed in the light of full 
fifty years of notable accomplishment— this much is cer- 
tain: work was being done, Constant conscientious eifort 
was being put forth, and, most important, the essay was 
coming to play an ever-increasing role. Daily Agnes Rep- 
plier was realizing with crescive force the fundamental 
truth of Father Hecker's advice to her. 

o o o 

Every morning, promptly at nine, Miss Repplier would 
proceed to her study and take her place at a tidy desk 
watched over by a portrait of Keats after Severn's sketch. 
Though she had heard and read that some authors wrote 
their best at night because of the thought-conducive quiet, 
Agnes Repplier found that for herself the morning was 
the most propitious time of ali. Generally at night she was 
too worn out to do much else than play a game or two of 
whist with her sister, her brother, and her father. And 
even this was managed more out of a sense of duty than of 
desire or from any great interest in the game. 

Although some forty years later she went so far as to 
take lessons in contract bridge with several of her closest 
friends, in the early days the essayist's attitude toward the 
modest progenitor of that complicated combination of 
numerology, augury, and polite calumny may be summed 
up in the words of a note of hers to a friend in which she 
admits to cordially detesting the game and adds: "Mary 
and I have been asked to a card party. Come and we'll re- 
fuse to play." 

But on more occasions than she liked, because of her 



68 AGNES REPPLIER 

father's failing health, Agnes Repplier felt it her obliga- 
tion to amuse him as best she could, and whist was his 
single pleasure. She and her sister were not young in re- 
gard to cards. Euchre they had been taught before they 
had sense for any more elaborate game, though whist had 
followed shortly thereafter. From their pre-convent days, 
Mr. Repplier had coached them in various such games. It 
was the only use to which he could put girl children; it 
was ali he thought women needed to know. In their 
father's eyes, card-playing constituted education. 

And perhaps in the early days the girls had found cards 
a better way of spending an evening than in doing nothing 
or in reading books they already knew by heart. But al- 
though as a result cards were to resolve themselves into 
the routine procedure night after night, Miss Repplier was 
inclined to confess that such was not her favorite way of 
spending time. In later generous moments she would ad- 
mit that perhaps whist offered a little in the way of edu- 
cation— ho w to get along with men, for example, "and 
that is something to learn"— or that it had provided a 
worth-while discipline. But during these years the game 
was scarcely entertainment for her. She considered whist 
a consummate bore, and only with considerable difEculty 
did she conceal the fact. 

© © © 

Writing was Agnes Repplier's real interest, with read- 
ing and people— clever, ingenious people— crowding dose. 
Family, for ali the love and devotion she bore them, never 
constituted "people" to her. No one of them had pro- 
vided her with even a remotely adequate foil, not even 
her mother. 






THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 69 

Her closest friend, Elizabeth Robins, seemed the per- 
fect combination of ali things worthy. For years the two 
had gone hand in hand, discussing their work and ambi- 
tions without either jealousy or doubts. A good-natured 
rivalry, carried over from their convent days, existed be- 
tween them, the source of stimulation to them both. 

Though Elizabeth Robins worked with considerable 
ease and she only with great effort, though because of an 
earlier success Elizabeth Robins was discouragement if 
also encouragement to her, though Elizabeth Robins had 
the help of her "Uncle" Charles Leland and she had no 
one but herself on whom to depend, Agnes Repplier felt 
she deserved a wider public than she had yet found, for 
she honestly believed her own work better executed than 
that of her friend. If perhaps it was more limited in its 
appeal— before she really found herself, that is— stili it was 
better writing, or at least so she would console herself in 
the face of what to her were Elizabeth Robins' disheart- 
ening triumphs. 

Some four years before this time, in July 1881, Eliza- 
beth Robins had appeared in the Atlantic Monthly by 
way of an essay called "Mischief in the Middle Ages." The 
two friends had been overjoyed at the almost undreamed- 
of honor. Little more than a beginner then, Agnes Rep- 
plier had only in her fondest fancies àllowed herself to 
think of such success. The Atlantic Monthly! That was 
the greatest, the most inspiring end of ali! And Elizabeth 
Robins— working quietly, unpretentiously, effortlessly, as 
it seemed to her friend— had made it. Agnes Repplier con- 
fessed to having thought she would die if she did not get 
in also. 

In dark moments, she would despair of ever achieving 



70 AGNES REPPLIER 

this goal. Then she would endeavor calmly to consider 
the whole situation. Her friend was only a tolerable sched- 
ar, really no better than she herself. Although Miss Robins 
had no pronounced religious preferences, neither had she 
any stupid prejudices against religion. Was she narrow, 
damagingly bigoted, Agnes Repplier would ask herself. 
Most emphatically no, though perhaps she had allowed 
creed to limit her fleld. She had directed her work to a 
large extent toward the Catholic World, it was trae, and 
no doubt it would be wise to try consciously to widen her 
scope, to let distinctly Catholic subjects He fallow for a 
while. 

Was it then that Elizabeth Robins was a better work- 
man than she? This Agnes Repplier could not see, for she 
was convinced that she was far more capable of putting 
her whole heart and soul into her work than was her 
friend. The answer? There was no answer save work, she 
would sigh. More and more work. 

For ali her rationalization, Agnes Repplier had found 
it hard to watch Elizabeth Robins climb: one paper— the 
first— in 1881, five in 1882, more in 1883, and ali in the 
Atlantic Monthly. But if Miss Repplier felt discourage- 
ment over Elizabeth Robins' success in writing, she experi- 
enced an even greater sense of having fallen irretrievably 
behind when one day early in 1884 she received a note 
from her friend stating simply and succinctly: "Greatly 
to my surprise, I find myself engaged to Joseph Pennell." 

Joseph Pennell, the artist! Perhaps he was homely— "as 
ugly as sin," Agnes Repplier described him. Perhaps he 
was somewhat careless about his appearance; a friend told 
her that he knew "J oe Pennell is engaged because he is a 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 71 

scrubbed-up Pennell." Perhaps he liked a bit too much to 
quarrel; a plain speaker, he wasn't a Quaker for nothing, 
she would say. Perhaps throughout the coming years she 
was to feel that Elizabeth Pennell was to waste a great 
amount of time and effort patching up the difficulties her 
husband provoked. But at least she had someone to offer 
her real help, someone upon whom she might lean, some- 
one to add his strength to hers. And more than just that, 
he was decidedly well on the way to becoming a world- 
famous artist. 

If he was, in Agnes Repplier's opinion, a dull man; if 
in later life she was to feel that Elizabeth Pennell had done 
her best work when she was not collaborating with her 
husband; if she saw little about their association that could 
be labeled ecstatic; stili she was forced to admit even in 
those days when independence seemed almost unreason- 
ably precious that Elizabeth Robins was very fortunate 
indeed. The why of Mrs. Pennell's love always remained 
something of a mystery to Agnes Repplier, but anyone 
could have seen that Pennell loved his wife dearly. And 
perhaps Miss Repplier envied her friend this even more 
than she envied her success in writing. Yes, it was a shock, 
Elizabeth Robins' marriage and subsequent going to Eng- 
land with her husband. But Agnes Repplier's near future 
was to bring some compensation. At least the Atlantic was 
to break upon the shore for her too. 

ODO 

Although it had been years now since the disgraceful 
if momentarily thrilling episode in her school, Miss Irwin, 
busy woman that she was, never lost contact with her 



72 AGNES REPPLIER 

rebel pupil. No doubt she may have been under the very 
real impression that young Agnes had thought too much 
of herself in those days, that, in fact, she had been almost 
insufferably smug, as she herself would later confess. And 
certainly she was at no time interested in her in a merely 
personal way. But she was always ambitious for the girl. 

Never going quite so far as to offer to criticize Agnes 
Repplier's writing— nor was the coming author overly 
anxious to allow her former mentor to see any before it 
appeared in print— she did have faith in the young woman, 
and she was vitally concerned in her work. Throughout 
the ten or so years that Miss Repplier had been earnestly 
striving not only to satisfy her artistic sense but to line 
the family pocketbook as well, Miss Irwin had remained 
a driving force behind ali the effort she put forth. The 
more progress she made, the greater the need of further 
progress, or so the essayist felt if e ver she were to justify 
Miss Irwin's evident belief in her. 

Even though the older woman may only indirectly have 
aided the young author in the question of style or subject 
or field, she proved a decided factor in Agnes Repplier's 
career inasmuch as almost without seeming design she pro- 
vided the writer with a goal quite as dominant as and per- 
haps even more pressing than any she had set up for her- 
self— that of winning a nod of approvai. Once she had put 
her mind to a thing, Miss Irwin drove with relentless 
energy toward its attainment. Long before, she had come 
to the decision that the girl had ability worthy of her at- 
tention, and Agnes Repplier, be it said, was never unaware 
of the fact that this someone who mattered was watching 

her. 

© © © 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 73 

Elizabeth Robins Pennell and Agnes Irwin had been 
Agnes Repplier's friends from her childhood. They had 
both known her long before she had ever published, or 
indeed, had even thought of publishing a single word. 
Harrison Morris, poet, and later editor of Lippincotfs 
Magazine, was her first "literary" friend. He won a place 
for himself at a time— the middle 1880's— when Agnes Rep- 
plier was extremely flattered to find that she had something 
of a following, though by no means did this lessen her 
appreciation of him. And he was to continue through the 
years as confidant and trusted adviser in ali matters per- 
taining to her career to a degree more intimate than even 
Miss Irwin achieved. 

Although when Morris first met Agnes Repplier he was 
engaged in business, stili he always made time somehow 
for arts and letters. It was through Louis, then employed 
by Mr. Repplier as general clerk in his retail coal trade, 
that the two became acquainted, and Harrison Morris 
with his taste for the excellent in writing was as delighted 
with the society of another author as Agnes Repplier was 
to find a literary admirer. 

Before very long, Harrison Morris became almost one 
of the Repplier family. He would travel west from his 
home on North Twentieth Street of a Sunday afternoon, 
and first off, together with Louis, would be sent to "rush 
the growler," as they were pleased to cali it, before sitting 
down to a long session of good talk topped by one of 
Julia's famous suppers. Kidney stew was her most meri- 
torious dish, and it was quite a standing joke that Morris 
would send word he was coming out on such and such a 
Sunday "to eat Julia's kidneys." 



74 AGNES REPPLIER 

It was Harrison Morris who introduced Agnes Repplier 
to Dr. Morris Jastrow, long a professor of orientai lan- 
guages at the University of Pennsylvania; to Dr. Felix E. 
Schelling, the great Shakespearean scholar of the same 
university; and, most exciting of ali, to Walt Whitman. It 
was Morris later on who was influential in Agnes Rep- 
plier's being honored by membership in the National Insti- 
tute of Arts and Letters. But it was the man himself who 
counted, not what he was able to bring with him. First 
as "Dear Mr. Morris" and then after twenty years (no 
hasty familiarity here) even to almost twice twenty more 
as "Dear Harrison," he proved his friendship for Agnes 
Repplier time and time again: in little ways, with Christ- 
mas baskets of fruit and wine, with birthday congratula- 
tions, with keen criticai taste, with ali the thoughtful, 
blended kindnesses of years of understanding companion- 
ship. 

No doubt there were others greater than he, particularly 
as a pseudo-omniscient world views position. There may 
have been others closer than he, degree in sudi matters 
being for the most part of vain hazard. But no one proved 
more enduring. 

o o © 

Agnes Repplier's life was to be singularly free of ali 
considerations involving the heart rather than the head. 
It is true that in her younger days she was interested in 
one of her Uncle George's sons, Frank Repplier, to a more 
than cousinly degree. But any possible thoughts of mar- 
riage were completely prohibited by both church and 
family. 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 75 

Some sixty years after, with octogenarian detachment, 
Agnes Repplier would point to Cousin Frank's having 
married a New York woman of means as proof that he had 
not been exactly heartbroken over the affair. Even a later 
friend, a young Englishman who had come to this country 
bent on making his fortune but very sensibly had returned 
to his native heath to marry one instead, was perhaps little 
more than a passing fancy as far as the essayist was 
concerned. 

If the truth be admitted, Miss Repplier was not the kind 
to offer men encouragement. Her wit and cleverness were 
generally far too brilliant for ali but the hardiest. She may 
very well have frightened more than she attracted— and 
this in spite of the fact that by her own frequent, free 
admission she much preferred the company of men to 
that of women and was to number not a few of the most 
important of her day among her friends. 

ODO 

The year 1886 began with enough evident progress 
over the past to hint of even more satisfying achievement. 
In January, the Catholic World published "A Stili Christ- 
mas," a short story that for lack of melodrama, for simple, 
unaffected characterization easily surpassed ali the stories 
Agnes Repplier had offered the public since she had first 
started. It tells of an English family during the winter of 
1653 when, by Puritan order, a ban had been put on ali 
"papist," festive (the terms being more or less synony- 
mous) recognition of the Christmas season. "No Christmas! 
No Christmas! No Christmas!" the herald proclaimed as 
he walked through the deserted city streets. But in a cer- 



16 AGNES REPPLIER 

tain Catholic Cavalier household there was to be a Christ- 
mas celebration even if behind drawn curtains, modest and 
subdued perhaps, for the father and son had fallen in a 
lost cause, but a fitting celebration nonetheless. 

The effect of this simple little story is that of truth 
itself, truth becomingly decked in fiction-finery. No need 
for whole-cloth cutting in "A Stili Christmas." And be- 
cause the essentials had been drawn from solid fact and 
warmed by sympathetic insight the effect is as real and ap- 
pealing as that of history. 

February brought in the same periodical a biograph- 
ical sketch of Joost van den Vondel, the "greatest of Hol- 
land's poets," who, coming as he did at the end of the six- 
teenth century, "had assisted at the birth of Dutch litera- 
ture and nourished its vigorous growth." Apparently this 
essay was inspired by a reading of Studies in Northern 
Literature, for it begins— as, indeed, were so many that 
followed to begin— with a quotation, here from Gosse's 
work. 

This was Agnes Repplier's true fleld, one of her most 
congenial points of departure: a comparatively obscure 
figure out of literary history— obscure, at least, for the 
English reading world— to be treated with ali the certainty 
and care that scholarly research and a literary-loving mind 
could summon. No path did the essayist tread with more 
assurance than the byway in literature, and in "Joost van 
den Vondel" her step is sure. 

© © © 

The following month, March, was undistinguished by 
any publication. But as it turned out, that was only the 
quiet before the great event, for— the most gratifying of 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 77 

ali possible gifts to mark her thirty-first birthday— in Aprii, 
the Atlantic Monthly printed "Children, Past and Pres- 
enti." With this essay, Agnes Repplier considered her 
future to be firmly set. 

For almost flfteen years she had been writing and pub- 
lishing before she gained a hearing in a "real" magazine, 
as she called the Atlantic. To those who would suggest 
that such effort showed considerable perseverance, she 
would insist smilingly that it had revealed instead merely 
a considerable need of money. No matter. This at last 
was realization. The fruit of determination, necessity, 
whichever it may have been— or a combination of the 
two, as no doubt it was— this at long last was success suffi- 
cient for the most exacting and, moreover, vindication of 
belief even to herself . 

For as long as she could remember, Harper's Magazine 
had been an accepted adjunct to the Repplier household. 
Month after month, year in and year out, it could be found 
on a table in the front parlor. Its lengthy serials and elab- 
orate illustrations were favorites with them ali, and to Mr. 
Repplier in particular Harper's was almost a necessity. 

It took Agnes Repplier to effect a change. The Atlantic , 
she would say proudly, carne in with her. Just why she 
should have picked this magazine instead of the other may 
be explained in part by the fact that even after her pub- 
lishing days had begun, it represented the taste of the 
brightest corner of the American literary world— even 
though perhaps the eifulgence was on the wane. 

The Atlantic Monthly had, since its founding, offered 
a host of worthy old and new writers. Its editors— always 
a fascinating, impressive breed to Miss Repplier because, 
as she would say, they decide things— had been brilliant 



78 AGNES REPPLIER 

men; and Thomas Bailey Aldrich, its prescnt head, was 
well within the established tradition. Perhaps at times she 
was to find it a little dull, but she could find excuse as well. 
It is human nature, she would point out, to be dull. And 
for her the Atlantic exhibited a sound sort of dullness; it 
was never trivial nor common. If dull, it was not stupid— 
a difference; and it was always worth while, always 
readable. 

For almost a generation, the Atlantic Monthly had been 
the gospel of Bostonians, and Agnes Repplier felt it quite 
good and wise of the city to hold on to it so securely. 
Boston, she was certain, would stand by the Atlantic so 
long as there was an Atlantic. Not only this, but Miss 
Irwin knew and loved the magazine. She was perhaps as 
familiar with Boston as she was with Philadelphia— later 
even more so— and her word was not to be doubted by 
Agnes Repplier. If Miss Irwin held the Atlantic in the 
highest esteem, there must be good reason indeed; it be- 
hooved her not to question but to seek. 

Most important of ali perhaps, the essayist had observed 
that this Boston by-product (she liked to remark that it 
was so distinguished the re verse seemed quite possible) 
was kind to new writers. It was on the Constant lookout 
for fresh talent. And Agnes Repplier herself had long 
since set her cap for the prize. 

O © © 

As a result of the modem tendency to desert the broad 
beaten roads of history for the bridle-paths of biography 
and memoir, we find a great many side lights thrown upon 
matters that the historian was wont to treat as altogether be- 
neath his consideration. It is by their help that we study the 
minute changes of social lif e that little by little alter the whole 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 79 

aspect of a people, and it is by their help that wc look straight 
into the ordinary every-day workings of the past, and meas- 
ure the space between its existence and our own. When we 
read, for instance, of Lady Cathcart being kept a dose 
prisoner by her husband for over twenty years, we look 
with some complacency on the roving wives of the nine- 
teenth century. When we reflect on the dismal fate of Uriel 
Freudenberger, condemned by the Canton of Uri to be burnt 
alive in 1760, for rashly proclaiming his disbelief in the leg- 
end of William Tell's appiè, we realize the inconveniences 
attendant on a too early development of the criticai faculty. 
We listen entranced while the learned pastor Dr. Johann 
Geiler von Keyersperg gravely enlightens his congregation 
as to the nature and properties of were-wolves; and we turn 
aside to see the half-starved boys at Westminster boiling their 
own batterpudding in a stocking foot, or to hear the little 
John Wesley crying softly when he is whipped, not being 
permitted even the luxury of a hearty bellow. 

Thus does "Children, Past and Present" begin. The key- 
note of the essay follows in the next paragraph: 

Women, workmen, and skeptics ali have reason enough to 
be grateful they were not born a few generations earlier; 
but the children of to-day are favored beyond their knowl- 
edge, and certainly far beyond their deserts. 

From this, Agnes Repplier weaves a fascinating "bridle- 
path" through ali the dour austerity of youthful discipline 
in days happily long past. Mrs. Wesley, Mrs. Sherwood, 
Lady Balcarras, Harriet Martineau, Madame Quinet, the 
Marquise de Montmirail, Lady Mary Wortley Montague; 
St. Anselm, Bertrand du. Guesclin, Guibert de Nogent, 
Chateaubriand, John Stuart Mill; the monastic schools of 
the Middle Ages, Eton, Westminster; Mr. and Miss Edge- 
worth's Practical Education, Mrs. Barbauld's "highly cor- 
rect and righteous little volumes," Miss Sewell and her 



80 AGNES REPPLIER 

Principles of Education: each yields a singular oddment of 
information, each feeds the author in her thesis. 

And the great wonder of it is, not that the information is 
there for the using, nor indeed even that the thesis is ad- 
mirably demonstrated, but that Agnes Repplier was able 
to come upon such a remarkable array as she musters here 
to prove her contention. Where, how, when, by whom 
led? The answer lies in the intellectual curiosity, in the 
painstaking research, in the eternai quest for the out-of- 
the-way that motivates so much of the essayist's work. That 
which is surface and readily recognized, with few excep- 
tions, is not for her. No one loved more "to desert the 
broad beaten roads of history for the bridle-paths of biog- 
raphy and memoir" than Agnes Repplier. And few were 
better able to handle with deftness, or color with fascina- 
tion that which "the historian was wont to treat as alto- 
gether beneath his consideration" than she. 

"Children, Past and Present," though not by any means 
sprung full-blown out of a profltless past, represents none- 
theless a startling advance over what she had done previ- 
ously. There had been the unusual before; there had been 
the felicity of execution. But nowhere in ali her earlier 
work were these two qualities so happily blended. 

Agnes Repplier has smilingly confessed to a sense of 
mystery surrounding the very real fact that the Atlantic 
Monthly accepted "Children, Past and Present." Perhaps 
one can be blinded by proximity, or very likely one may 
on occasion choose whimsically to be mystified. But the 
reader, who must remain forever on the outside, can see, 
and he who puts whimsey away for the moment can 
understand. 



CHAPTER V 

Books and Men 

1886-1888 

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD 

Once the first step had been taken, the going grew much 
easier: one essay followed "Children, Past and Present" in 
1886, four in 1887, and another in 1888. The Atlantic 
Monthly had become a regular outlet for Agnes Repplier's 
writings. "On the Benefits of Superstition" gathers a sheaf 
of strange, bewildered beliefs of our credulous forebears. 
Throughout its pages there runs only the faintest sug- 
gestion of pungency, too playful to be called malice, and 
not even the most sensitive shade could conjure resentment 
against the author's delicate mocking. 

"Curiosities of Criticism" ranges ali the way from the 
whining of Lord Beaconsfield, who, sorely needing 
"emollient for his bruises," held to the contention that "ali 
critics are necessarily wrong in ali cases," through "the 
pure absurdities of criticism" to the just conclusion that 
"it is folly to rail at the. critic until we have learned his 
value; it is folly to ignore a help which we are not too 
wise to need." Though critic herself and in theory at 
least not one to take up cudgels for the author, Agnes 

81 



82 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Repplier puts both sides of the issue with such perfcct 
balance that neither critic on the one hand nor writer on 
the other can claim to have come off completely unscathed, 
or for that matter, more than just a little damaged. 

"The Decay of Sentiment," a lament that "the old 
springs of simpie sentiment are drying fast within us," and 
"Some Aspects of Pessimism," a gentle reminder that 
"self -satisf action, if as buoyant as gas, has an ugly trick 
of collapsing when full-blown, and facts are stony things 
that refuse to melt away in the sunshine of a smile," evi- 
dence a sufficient tongue-in-cheek attitude to forestali the 
reader who might be tempted to whisper "false." "What 
Children Read" offers a plea for the rich, ripe books of a 
bygone day, the books that children used to read, and a 
hearty denuncia tion of the "Dotty Dimple and Little 
Prudy" nonsense of a less enlightened even if modera age. 
"The Cavalier" suggests that if the Puritan "has been 
wafted imo universal esteem by the breath of Carlyle his 
great eulogist," then it is equally true that "the Cavalier 
stili waits for his historian." These papers make up the re- 
mainder of the Atlantic essays of this initial period. 

Over the same months that she had been offering these 
essays in the Atlantic Monthly, Agnes Repplier was pub- 
lishing as well in her friend of long standing, the Catholic 
World, and had found entry also into another magazine, 
Lippincotfs. Of the half-dozen papers in ali that appeared 
elsewhere than in the Boston journal, the most important 
is "Marius the Epicurean" of the former for May 1886, 
and the most typical, "Modera Word-Parsimony" in the 
latter for February 1888. 

The first is really an extended analysis, "the harsh out- 



BOOKS AND MEN 83 

line of a book which Mr. Pater has enriched with ali the 
rare charm of scholarship, with luminous descriptions of 
a dead past, and with touches of a subtle philosophy inter- 
woven deftly and gracefully among its pages." The lesson 
it teaches, the essayist concludes, is "to help us to be as 
happy as we can, by increasing and refining our sensations, 
by identifying ourselves with every form of beauty, and 
by opening our hearts freely to ali higher emotions." In 
Pater, Agnes Repplier found a kindred spirit, one whom 
she might and did long cherish, for some years after she 
had written this careful examination of the book she was 
to hold a little group of listeners spellbound in an out-of- 
the-way English inn by her keen appreciation and deline- 
ation of it. 

"Modem Word-Parsimony" is more typical perhaps in 
that it reveals the incisive wit of its author, for which 
characteristic in general she was to be so justly remem- 
bered, whereas "Marius the Epicurean" had been too 
earnest a paper to allow of even the slightest persiflage. 
In this paper, Agnes Repplier regrets the loss in present 
literature of the "languid grace" of that in the past, al- 
though here, as so frequently in her writing, the reader 
is never certain to what extent she means to be taken 
seriously. Be that as it may now, she writes, literature 
"stands stripped like an athlete for the course, carrying 
nothing that may interfere with its primary object of 
getting rapidly over the ground." And of this the implica- 
tion stands clear: the author is distinctly of the opinion 
that, like the athlete of popular fancy, such unfettered 
literature may well be far more fleet of body than nimble 
of mind. With an unmistakable shaking of the head, she 



84 AGNES REPPLIER 

looks sorrowfully to the day when it may be "possible for 
us to grow more parsimonious stili." 

® o o 

Although, in years past, Miss Irwin had many times 
told Agnes Repplier that Boston had spoiled her early 
authors with too much praise and had even insisted when- 
ever her former pupil had complained of being overlooked 
that a little neglect is good for a young writer, not many 
months after the essayist had gained entrance into the 
Atlantic Monthly the older woman informed her that it 
now was time for her to go to Boston. To Agnes Repplier's 
asking why, out of her knowledge Miss Irwin gave irrefu- 
table reason: "Boston is prepared to be hospitable to you. 
And your readers are ready to welcome you. You have a 
great chance, and you take it by the Boston end." 

Miss Repplier protested that she did not want to go to 
Boston— the prospect of such a trip unnerved her beyond 
measure— that she did not want to go anywhere. She was 
perfectly content to remain quietly at home. But Miss 
Irwin was not to be put off; she brushed ali objections 
aside. "Nonsense! Boston is keener than Philadelphia— as 
well you may have suspected. Boston will be good to 
you." And as things turned out, that it was indeed. 

Nonetheless, with considerable misgivings, Agnes Rep- 
plier set out alone for Boston. Even though she was as 
sure of Miss Irwin as she was of the seasons, she was des- 
perately afraid: afraid of Boston itself, afraid of its people, 
afraid of the reception she might receive— or, worse, of 
being perhaps totally ignored. There could be no doubt 
that Miss Irwin knew best— the safest source of small com- 
fort— and she had given her a sheaf of letters of introduc- 



BOOKS AND MEN 85 

tion. Perhaps ali would go well. Aldrich knew of her com- 
ing: his reply to her note so informing him had been most 
cordial. But Boston! Boston does not care for the opinion 
of anyone outside of Boston, she kept repeating. Who or 
what am I to go to Boston? 

But the essayist might well have saved herself ali the 
worry: this first trip (there were to be many in the years 
to come) proved to be ten days of "riotous gaiety." Her 
immediate impression of the town was that it seemed quite 
small for ali the important people in it. Although Boston 
may have been full of distinguished persons dying out at 
a great rate— Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow 
—stili there was no denying the fact that it as hub had car- 
ried on the intellectual life of the country for a hundred 
years. In her opinion it had an unbeatable tradition. She 
felt that it had largely passed out of the creative into the 
criticai stage by the time she arrived, that to ali intents and 
purposes New England had ceased to flower on any large 
scale when she carne on the scene. Stili, once she had vis- 
ited the city, she knew that it had far more to offer than 
Philadelphia, and that she really did have to go there to 
meet people who counted. Bostonians, she discovered, 
"tossed their minds." They did not just talk about any- 
thing, but always about something; and they had an infin- 
ity of conversation. In Boston, she was happy to see, peo- 
ple met intellectually. 

On that first exciting trip, Agnes Repplier settled down 
in a small hotel, not quite certain what would happen, nor 
just how to go about things. But before long, she was 
caught up in a dazzling whirl of dinners, receptions, and 
teas, meeting as she went everybody big and little. 

Boston may have been very pleased with itself, but it 



86 AGNES REPPLIER 

was friendly, and far more charming than she was to find 
New York later on. The city truly seemed curious about 
her, and her coming caused "a little flutter," as the news- 
papers put it. But that was to be expected: after ali, she 
was of the Atlantic, and the Atlantic was even more of 
Boston than she had imagined it to be. She found herself 
as a result f amous if, as she felt, in a queer sort of way. 

Aldrich was kindness itself, he and his charming, hand- 
some, rather superior wife. Bostonians called Mrs. Aldrich 
the "Amber Witch," after the fairy-tale character, be- 
cause of her collection of amber and the amber jewels 
that she never seemed to be without. But it was the editor 
himself who charmed Agnes Repplier beyond measure, 
the most brilliant talker she was ever to know. Prone to 
laugh at what he held dear, rather a scofTer at things, sar- 
donie, gay, amusing: this was Mr. Aldrich. He really was 
not like Boston at ali, she thought, being far too light- 
tempered, far too light-minded, irreverent even toward 
the city itself. Miss Repplier found him fond of the trivial- 
ities of life, but, she decided, even Boston must like to be 
amused on occasion. 

Although he never stressed the literary side of his life, 
she was quick to learn of his reputation as editor of the 
Atlantic, which, always somewhat on the heavy side, had 
been brought around, she felt, to gayer things through his 
efTorts. Yes, Mr. Aldrich was ali that she could have 
dreamed of, ali and more; for not only was he a delight 
with his witty talk, but he was completely generous to her 
as well with the attention he showed her. Through him 
and Miss Irwin's friends who carne out in gallant force to 
entertain her, she met ali the important persons left. 



BOOKS AND MEN 87 

Thcrc was old Dr. Holmes, kindly, chatty, tottery, a 
little in his dotage; and Whittier, friendly, assured, if not 
exactly interesting. There was Sarah Or ne Jewett, whose 
short stories Agnes Repplier sincerely admired. Charming, 
handsome, pleasing, she was the shyest, most reticent 
woman with whom the outlander from Philadelphia was 
to become acquainted. 

Agnes Repplier met Mary E. Wilkins Freeman on sev- 
eral occasions, but she found her dull in conversation, 
sealed up as it were, seemingly uninterested in anyone. 
And there was something mysterious about her as well. 
Agnes Repplier wrote years later: 

It was said of her that she absolutely refused to so much as 
open other people's books lest the pictures etched so clearly 
in her mind should grow blurred and confused. I rather think 
she knew how thin as well as fine was the vein of ore she 
worked, and that she had resolved none of it should be lost. 

She was a small, thin, fair-haired woman. Seen across the 
room she looked like a girl. Seen close at hand she looked 
older than her age. She dressed sedately; but, sitting near her 
one day after luncheon, I noticed three brilliant and beauti- 
ful rings on her left hand. They blazed so proudly that my 
eyes constantly strayed towards them, a circumstance she 
was quick to observe. "I can't help it," I murmured apolo- 
getically. "They will be looked at. They are so lovely." 

Miss Wilkins moved them round and round her thin little 
fingers. "They are beautiful," she said. "Week before last 
I was so low in my mind, so dull and dispirited, that I carne 
up to Boston and bought these rings to cheer me up." 

Never in my life had I been so staggered by a simple piece 
of information. In the first place, the thought that a book 
(Miss Wilkins had published but one) might, like Ali Baba's 
cave, be over fio wing with jewels, gave me a new and exalted 
view of authorship. In the second place, I had never imagined 
rings as things one bought for oneself like hats and stockings. 



88 AGNES REPPL1ER 

They were things given, or bequeathed by great-aunts. Low 
spiri ts are common to us ali; but who save Mary Wilkins, 
straight-forward, circumscribed, sure of herself, and as un- 
imaginative as a hatrack, would have thought of curing them 
with rings? 

Julia Ward Howe, Miss Irwin had warned, was an 
alarming person, reminding one of nothing more than a 
parrot about to pounce. And Agnes Repplier found that 
Mrs. Howe rather made this pose her role. No doubt she 
was a wonderful woman. She cared for causes in a way 
that aroused envy in the essayist, who claimed she her- 
self always found it difficult to be moved deeply by a 
cause. But Mrs. Howe was almost overbearingly master- 
ful. And she did not take the trouble to converse with 
you; she just let out a few words now and then. Although 
the essayist was to know her well, she never quite con- 
quered her fear of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," 
as she flippantly labeled Mrs. Howe. 

Undoubtedly the most important figure Miss Repplier 
met on that first trip to Boston was Lowell, a lordly man, 
imposing in manner and speech. Somewhat self-conscious, 
not a little self-centered, he appeared to the Philadelphian 
to be rather condescending in his attitude, though, as she 
would say charitably, perhaps he could not help it. Cold, 
standoffish, kind but frozen, he was, after ali, she had to 
admit, a great man, and very impressivi But then, Agnes 
Repplier would teli herself in later years, at the time she 
had been rather easily impressed. 

Amusingly enough considering the position he occu- 
pied, it was Lowell who, unconsciously to be sure, pro- 
vided Agnes Repplier with the most delightful tale of ali 



BOOKS AND MEN 89 

to relate to her friends back in Philadelphia. She was be- 
ing entertained at the home of one of the most prominent 
society* women in Boston. Everybody of importance was 
there— everybody including Lowell. Having left her 
wraps on the second floor, the essayist had come down to 
the reception room to discover that unfortunately she had 
neglected to bring her glasses. They remained tucked 
away with her things in the cloakroom. Standing idly by 
outside the ring of social and literary giants gathered for 
the occasion, she lamented her having been so careless. She 
was much too shy to go upstairs to get them herself ; and 
yet, without the glasses, she felt awkward and ili at ease. 
And to add to her general discomfort, she saw that, of ali 
persons, Lowell was descending upon her, inquiring as 
he carne up why she had not joined the others. 

"Fm quite unhappy," she confessed in a small voice, "be- 
cause, you see, Fve left my glasses upstairs, and I can't see 
a thing." 

To her pleased surprise, Lowell immediately ofTered to 
get them for her. Having been reared in the idea that men 
do things for women— though later experience, she would 
say, was to cure her of the notion— Miss Repplier ex- 
pressed her appreciation of his kindness, and told him just 
where the glasses might be found. 

But during Lowell's brief absence on the mission of 
mercy, the full signiflcance of her nai'veté was made clear 
to her. A woman present at the reception— totally strange 
to the newcomer— having noticed that he had been speak- 
ing to her, asked where Lowell had gone. Agnes Repplier 
innocently informed her, "To get my glasses." 

The str anger was obviously shaken. "You mean Mr. 



90 AGNES REPPLIER 

Lowell has gone to get your glasses?" she asked in frank 
unbelief. 

Taken aback, the outlander gasped assent, and the 
woman stalked away in shocked amazement. Agnes Rep- 
plier was embarrassed and confounded. Whatever else 
Lowell might be, she felt, he was a man, and more than 
that, he was at home. She, on the other hand, was a woman 
and a stranger. Surely he was not too great a person for 
common politeness. Boston must find him boring, she 
sighed in guilty confusion over her faux pas, yet apparent- 
ly it continues to adore him. 

Taking ali things into account— even her unfortunate 
misuse of the lordly Mr. Lowell— Agnes Repplier had been 
perfectly enchanted by her trip to Boston. She felt that 
the debt she owed the city could never be repaid, that she 
had found another true friend, perhaps the greatest. One 
really has to go to Boston for inspiration, she decided. 
She herself— though only on the urging of Miss Irwin, be 
it admitted— had turned to Boston as a flower to the sun, 
and there she had come upon a li^ht and brilliance equal 
to none to be gained elsewhere. Truth to teli, she con- 
fessed, her head rocked at the very thought of the recep- 
tion she had received. No other words could possibly ex- 
press her reaction to it. 

But if her head had been understandably turned by 
Boston, it was swiftly unturned again by Philadelphia. 
Back home, she was merely Agnes Repplier, a relatively 
insignificant writer living quietly west of the Schuylkill. 
Here she found no inspiration other than that coming 
from pride and necessity. Here she found no open-arms 
reception, and this in spite of her "triumph" at Boston. 



BOOKS AND MEN 91 

Here she found only obscurity, the obscurity, shc fclt, 
that is Philadelphia itself. 

And yet, it was but in passing moments that the essay- 
ist aspired to Boston. She would remain faithful to this 
droll town with its obscurity, its neglect, its indifference. 
Philadelphia suited her somehow, ali of it, even the indif- 
ference. "Once a Philadelphian, always a Philadelphian" 
might be stupid, Agnes Repplier realized, but even she 
could not be different. Then too, she had discovered, Bos- 
tonians so openly felt her coming from Philadelphia a pity 
that she declined absolutely to regard it thus. "Philadel- 
phia?" they would ask, pausing invariably to digest the 
horrid fact. Yes, Philadelphia. That is my home. Besides— 
and she would smile— winter in Boston is very cold. 

ODO 

Early the following summer, in 1888, Mr. Repplier, ail- 
ing for some time, was taken seriously ili. The piazza that 
July was deserted. The blinds were drawn in his room to 
keep out the hot Philadelphia sun, hotter and more un- 
comfortable, Agnes Repplier declared, than that of equa- 
torial Africa. Slowly, day by day, he gave up. He had so 
little to fight for now it seemed; seventy-six was long 
enough to live. The first week of July brought the end, 
and he was buried in the vault at St. John's where six 
years before his wife, Agnes, had been placed. 

The death of her father was not the shock to Agnes 
Repplier her mother's passing had been. He was always 
in his way more fatherly perhaps than Mrs. Repplier had 
been motherly, and yet he had never come very dose to 
her. For ali her faults— no one was more aware of them 



92 AGNES REPPL1ER 

than this daughter— Mrs. Repplier had become almost a 
necessary force, and the essayist had felt because of her an 
urgent need to prove her worth. By her very begrudging 
them their interference with her life, Mrs. Repplier had 
tied her children to her with a bond more real because 
more obvious than that of the casual if sincere love their 
father bore them. There was sadness but little sorrow in 
his passing, and for Agnes Repplier the future had not 
lost the desire-to-justify it once had lost. 

© © © 

In the spring of the same year in which her father died, 
Miss Repplier carne to the conclusion that she wanted to 
publish a collection of her better essays, and she chose her 
first seven Atlantic papers for the volume. There were 
several reasons why she made the decision, but the most 
important was she had become convinced that a book is a 
necessary form of advertisement for a periodical writer. 
"It is a great help to a writer to publish a book," she would 
offer in somewhat oblique explanation to those of her 
friends who inquired. Then, too, although this was merely 
secondary, Elizabeth Pennell had long since published sev- 
eral books, and Agnes Repplier was not one to allow her 
former convent mate to get ahead of her. 

Fearful lest no company would want to risk the publish- 
ing of her essays, and none having up to this time volun- 
teered to do so, the essayist wrote to a well-known Boston 
house offering them her work on a subsidized basis. 
Morris, who had had experience in the business of pub- 
lishing, advised her in the matter. Although her Boston 
trip had almost exhausted her small reserve of funds, both 
he and she thought it a venture not a little worth-while. 



BOOKS AND MEN 93 

And as Miss Repplier would say in later years, "I had no 
hesitation— which was a help." 

Although the Boston firm of her choice agreed to pub- 
lish a slim volume, they made it painfully clear that she 
was very probably throwing her money away. There was 
no market for essays, they informed her. But Agnes Rep- 
plier had made up her mind; she was not to be deterred 
by any considerations of money. This was far too impor- 
tant for debilitating caution. Having considered the ques- 
tion seriously, she was certain of what she wanted. Very 
well, the Boston firm replied to her letter brushing aside 
their objections. But remember that we warned you. And 
the edition was, upon their strong suggestion, reduced 
from a thousand copies to eight hundred, to protect her, 
they said, from too great a loss. 

Some years later, after the book had gone through sev- 
eral printings, the publishers generously wrote her in con- 
gratulation. Aren't you glad you didn't take our advice, 
they asked in erTect. 

"Books and Men" Agnes Repplier wrote to Morris, "is 

to come out on September 29th," and she asked him if he 

could possibly manage some newspaper publicity for her 

without too much trouble. Then on October 2, 1888, an- 

other letter to her good friend: 

My copies of the essays have just arrived; neat quakerish 
little books with an air of deprecating modesty about them 
that forcibly suggests the most remote corner of the book- 
seller's shelf. I can see them already shrinking bashfully into 
their appointed nooks and powdering their little gray heads 
with the dust of the undisturbed. 

But in February of the following year she was able to 

write Morris again in great excitement that only fifty- 

seven copies of the first edition were left. "Do you think 



94 AGNES REPPL1ER 

it possiblc I will have a second?" she added in some won- 
der. No fear— the book went into twenty ali told. The ad- 
vertisement Agnes Repplier had sought, it seemed, was a 
success. 

In November and December following its publication, 
reviews of Books and Men appeared, and gratifying for 
the most part they were. In the Boston Post it was stated 
pleasantly if in somewhat reverse-compliment fashion that 
the seven essays comprising the volume had "already made 
some reputation for their author among those who have 
literary tastes and enjoy a book which finds in them its 
only excuse for being." This reviewer called particular 
attention to the two essays on children, and concluded 
with a dubious flourish: "A better companion in reading 
which shall entertain and rest the mind and yet have some 
value, the season has not brought." 

As was to be expected there were reviews also in the 
Atlantic Monthly and the Catholic World. In the latter 
magazine the critic wrote: "As for men, the men in these 
pages are, after ali, the men of books, who sometimes dif- 
fer from the men one meets in broadcloth or in tweed, 
awaiting their apotheosis into calf-skin and gilt lettering" 
— proof positive that Father Hecker's ghost was stili at 
large. 

This then was the making of a book; this the coming of 
age of a writer. Perhaps not ali was soft words and pretty 
compliments; perhaps not ali was ease and sure success. 
But there was satisfaction in the business even along with 
the carping of a few voices, and the doubts involved. And 
there was the keen sense that a reputation was being f orged 
in lasting fashion. Now, Agnes Repplier felt, she had be- 
come an author in very deed. 



CHAPTER VI 

Wider Worlds 

1889-1892 

OODOOODOOOODODOOOOOOOOOO 

In October 1889 Agnes Repplier wrote to Harrison 
Morris: 

Miss Irwin wants me to give fìve or six public lectures on lit- 
erary subjects in Lent, when she thinks people will have 
nothing better to do with their time than to come to hear me. 
The idea is appalling, and I may say frankly that what partly 
discourages me is that dismal warning of Dr. Jastrow's that 
my opinions were unpalatable to women, on whom, of 
course, I should have to rely for an audience. There would 
be no use of lecturing, if I cannot please, and yet, when a 
woman like Agnes Irwin urges any measure, it seems unwise 
to resist. What do you think? 

Morris thought well of Miss Irwin's suggestion, and, 
doubly fortified if stili none too sure of herself, Miss 
Repplier began to make ready for the Lenten series. These, 
it turned out, were but by way of preparation for the 
ultimate test. 

As with the essay writing which, upon Miss Irwin's 
advice, Agnes Repplier had taken "by the Boston end," 
so also with her lecturing. - The real start carne, not at 
Philadelphia, but in the "Hub" before an awe-inspiring 

95 



96 AGNES REPPL1ER 

group of select ladies of the very highest order. After 
ali was over on the afternoon she spoke, a friend reported 
to the essayist that she had overheard two members of 
the audience commenting upon her talk. 

"It was a brilliant lecture," one said with a note of in- 
contradictability in her voice. 

The other conceded that it had been and added: "She 
speaks very well. Where is she from?" 

"Philadelphia," said the first. 

"Philadelphia? Fhitedelphia?" with a rising inflection 
that went up to the ceiling. "Well, she must be a Bryn 
Mawr woman." 

The story delighted Miss Repplier, who found it most 
amusing that in Boston at least, whenever the proud city 
of Philadelphia was concerned, the tail should wag the 
dog. But let them have their quirks, she told herself. The 
test had been a success. 

Agnes Repplier soon discovered that lecturing had 
every advantage to it save being a pleasant thing to do. 
Topics were easy to find, for in general she drew from 
her essays. "The Mission of Humor" was to be her most 
popular, and even she liked it the best inasmuch as it 
allowed her to teli one story after another. Although 
she did grow inordinately bored with repeating herself, 
stili she was not required to spend more than a minimum 
of time in preparation. Ali this made for little trouble. 

But the drawbacks were annoyingly unavoidable. 
Never very strong, the essayist found it quite an effort 
to make herself heard in a large hall. And it was not until 
years later that Augustus Thomas gave her his sound 
ad vice: "Look after your consonants, and your vowels 



W1DER WORLDS 97 

will look after themselves." Of even greater discomfort 
to Agnes Repplier was the necessity of remaining after 
a talk to be entertained. She would far rather hurry 
away. She did not like the unnerving business of coming 
face to face with the members of her audience. But for 
ali the trials, Miss Repplier could rarely resist the temp- 
tation to speak whenever she received a cali. Lectur- 
ing made money for her. That was the fundamental 
advantage. 

Although her lecturing was to take her traveling in 
the United States for more than thirty years, never was 
Agnes Repplier to feel it had repaid her quite so gener- 
ously as one night in Richmond. After her talk, an eld- 
erly gentleman in the audience carne up to her. 

"Your name is Repplier," he said. "Are you by any 
chance related to a Mrs. John George Repplier of 
Philadelphia?" 

The lecturer told him that she was indeed Mrs. John 
George's daughter. 

"Well, I am glad to meet you," the man went on. 
"You see, I was a Confederate prisoner at Fort Delaware, 
and your mother sent me cakes and jelly and books. I 
have never forgotten her. I am very happy to be able to 
thank the daughter for her mother's kindness to me." 

ODO 

It was about this same time, too, that Agnes Repplier 
felt she both was ready for and could afFord a trip to 
Europe, an initial trip that was to be followed by numer- 
ous others through the years. Miss Irwin may have 
had a hand in the matter, and anything recommended 



98 AGNES REPPLIER 

by Miss Irwin generally became an absolute necessity to 
Miss Repplier; but the essayist really needed no encour- 
agement here. Travel in Europe carne naturally to her. 

"I saved money, went to Europe and spent it," Miss Rep- 
plier at eighty and more was proud to confess. "To go 
abroad should be the rational ambition of every writer. As 
soon as I had a thousand dollars in hand, I went off to Eu- 
rope— thank heavens!' This was after her parents were dead 
and she was free to come and go more or less as she pleased. 
As she would say, "For years London and Paris had been 
calling as hard as they could cali." Now she could answer. 

It is true there was the rather terrifying business of the 
sea voyage about which she had heard so many uncomfort- 
able things. Mrs. S. Weir Mitchell kindly offered her cure 
for mal de meri go to bed as soon as you set foot on the 
boat and stay there until land is reached on the other side. 
But Agnes Repplier would willingly have risked seasickness 
a dozen times for one trip abroad. 

She never went to Europe for the scenery. She could not 
abide Switzerland, with looking at mountains and streams 
apparently the only occupation at hand. Travel abroad to 
her meant meeting people and seeing cities. "There is no 
thrill quite like that of arriving in a strange city for the first 
time," she would explain. Through the years she was to 
come to know certain parts of France and of England with 
almost native familiarity. 

Rome became an understandably particular favorite. Her 
initial visit was on the suggestion of Archbishop Ryan who 
insisted that no Roman Catholic goes to Europe for the 
first time without seeing Italy. Though she remembered 
that the weather had been blazing the June she was there, 



W1DER WORLDS 99 

she found the city ali she could have asked. In addition to 
its undeniably romantic atmosphere, Venice also had an 
equally undeniable smeli to it, Miss Repplier discovered. 
But it was not disagreeable to her. The tourists were the 
only nuisance. They would insist upon singing on the 
Grand Canal. 

Berlin she found a curiously disciplined place. Agnes 
Repplier lived there in Constant fear of being arrested for 
doing something contrary to the law— like walking the 
wrong way on the Street, she would complain in amuse- 
ment. And she was very happy to escape before her incar- 
ceration. But Munich was a real delight, especially the beer 
gardens. No one stays at home at night in Munich, she de- 
cided, not even the grandmothers. 

Brussels seemed to the essayist a f eeble imitation of Paris, 
a city in its turn that appeared somehow alien to her. Lon- 
don remained always way above Paris in her affections. 
Had she gone abroad permanently, she most certainly 
would have chosen it to live in as had the Pennells. There 
was not a brick about it that did not appeal to her. In a 
measure it seemed her rightful home; her literary home it 
had been for nearly thirty years. 

The first trip abroad carne in the summer of 1890. Agnes 
Repplier and her sister, Mary, went together on the Nor- 
mania and traveled four months, mostly on the Continent 
with a few weeks in England at the very end of their stay. 
Perhaps it was not to equal some of her later trips, for it 
was a hurried affair. But. it was the first, and that alone 
made it memorable. 

When in Rome Agnes Repplier sent Harrison Morris 
some violets from the graves of Shelley and Keats. "We 



100 AGNES REPPL1ER 

visited the Catacombs," she wrote him, "our guide being a 
Trappist monk who had been released from his vows of si- 
lence for the occasion. And he certainly made up for lost 
time! I kept trailing behind, looking back, wondering what 
it would be like to be lost there, until the guide must have 
thought I was either a Protestant or a lunarie. " 

The essayist and her sister reached England the day of 
Cardinal Newman's death, and "London was ali agog. 
Madame Tussaud's— where we went last night— has two 
figures of him/' she wrote to Morris, "one of them brand 
new, with his hand resting on a table of black velvet, to in- 
dicate the general mourning. ,, 

In London she met Elizabeth Pennell whom she had not 
seen for se ver al years. "Every promise of her youth has 
bloomed into a delicious fulfillment, and of ali the charm- 
ing things in London, she seemed to me the best," she wrote. 

Her praise of England was rapturous, especially of the 
way in which people spoke. "After French, Dutch, Ger- 
man, Flemish, to say nothing of American, the mother 
tongue was made doubly blessed by being so sweetly 
spoken . . . The charming intonations of the English fili 
me with wonder and regret. Why can't I speak in that 
way?" Some years later, more in earnest than in jest, Miss 
Repplier was to suggest that we in this country give over 
the study of f oreign languages and learn how to speak Eng- 
lish instead. 

That first trip made of Agnes Repplier a confirmed trav- 
eler. If in a way it was not entirely to her liking, the mis- 
takes had been largely her own fault and she would know 
better the next time. Italy, France, and England most of ali 
had more than lived up to their promise. 

© O © 



WIDER WORLDS 101 

In the 1880's one's literary life was not complete with- 
out membership in a Browning Society, and Philadelphia 
had its little band of worshipers that gathered monthly to 
do honor to the Victorian poet. According to the essayist, 
the group to which she belonged had no social standing 
whatsoever and very little real merit. It was made up for 
the most part, she carne to f eel, of thwarted souls who could 
not get their composings published and so read them instead. 

"We encouraged each other in mediocrity," was her 
comment in later years. And yet the society reached out 
in the right direction. "It endeavored to keep letters alive," 
she said, adding, "which was certainly a noble enterprise, 
even if in Philadelphia it was much like keeping a selection 
of corpses moving about." 

Of far more consequence was the Contemporary Club, 
begun in 1886 and continuing to the present day. Over the 
years, Agnes Repplier was to be actively engaged in its or- 
ganization, acting as president for several terms as well as 
contributing frequently in other capacities. Dedicated to 
the business of promoting discussion of matters of the day, 
the Contemporary Club engaged speakers ranging ali the 
way from Walt Whitman to Margaret Sanger and surveyed 
topics from evolution to the American Indian. 

On many occasions Miss Repplier was the speaker of the 
evening, though there were times when she refused if she 
felt herself unequal to the situation. Once when Harrison 
Morris asked her to take part in a debate on Shakespeare, 
she wrote to him declining his invitation: "I do not assign 
to myself the task of imparting what I don't know to the 
worid." 

Most frequently she was merely looked to for "words" 
when the meeting was turned over to the audience. It was 



102 AGNES REPPLIER 

then that she shone forth, her ready wit pointing her re- 
marks. Indeed Talcott Williams, then of the Philadelphia 
Press, and she became so well known for their comments 
and counter comments that they were dubbed "Tall-talk 
Williams" and "Agnes Reply-er" by the members of the 
club who squirmed with delight as the fur flew. 

In 1886, Agnes Repplier was instrumentai in getting 
Walt Whitman to address the club. Somewhat fearful of 
what he might have to say and rather disarmed by his back- 
country farmer getup when he appeared on the scene, she 
was infinitely relieved to hear him speak "beautifully, well 
within bounds, and with a charming grace and manner." 

Years after the Whitman meeting she presented Henry 
James to the club members. A surprise of another sort re- 
sulted on this occasion, for the immaculate author turned 
out to be a dismal disappointment. Horace Howard Furness 
wrote of it to his sister: 

After dinner [Agnes] told me much of her introduction of 
Henry James at the Contemporary Club. As she memorized it 
at the time, she repeated it to me, almost word for word, and, 
my faith! it was charming, sparkling with most felicitous 
phrases. Indeed, from what I have heard of the evening, her 
speech eclipsed Henry James's, whereof the delivery was al- 
most irredeemably bad. . . . 

Forthright always, Miss Repplier wrote once to Harrison 
Morris: "I am told that you declined to ask Mr. L. D. to 
speak at the Contemporary meeting. If this be so, I congrat- 
ulate you. I heard him last Sunday. He is a worm." 

It would scarcely be exag^eration to say that those meet- 
ings of the Contemporary Club at which Agnes Repplier 
spoke, either extemporaneously or from the platform, were 



W1DER WORLDS 103 

always the high lights of the season. Though she never 
forgot her genteel origin, she never hesitated to speak her 
mind. And she spoke with pungency and éclat always. 

ODO 

In 1891, the essayist published her second volume, Points 
of View y made up of eight papers first printed in the At- 
lantic Monthly and one from the Catholic World. Of the 
entire collection, well received by critics and public alike, 
two essays have particular significance. 

At the Contemporary Club meeting for March 1888, a 
group of men, including Agnes Repplier's friendly adver- 
sary Talcott Williams, had considered the subject "Books 
Which Have Helped Me." The discussion set Miss Rep- 
plier to thinking, and in July 1889 she published in the 
Atlantic a paper entitled "Books That Flave Hindered Me." 
It began: 

So many grateful and impetuous spirits have recently come 
forward to teli to an approving world how they have been 
benefited by their early reading, and by their wise-chosen 
favorites in literature, that the trustful listener begins to think, 
against his own rueful experience, that ali books must be 
pleasant and profitable companions. 

Agnes Repplier's own experience had indeed been "rue- 
ful." There was that "horrible little book called 'Reading 
Without Tears' " which had plagued her early life. There 
was Sanford and Merton which had had the unfortunate 
effect, not of filling her with regard for the righteously in- 
dustrious, but of giving her a "sneaking preference for the 
drones and butterflies of earth." And there were many 
others. She concluded her blithe paper: 



104 AGNES REPPLIER 

Those who read these simple statements may not, I fear, find 
them as edifying or as stimulating as the happier recollections 
of more favored souls; but it is barely possible that they may 
see in them the unvarnished reflection of some of their own 
youthful experiences. 

Agnes Repplier thought the essay one of the most amus- 
ing she had written. Of course, it should be included in 
her latest volume; it was too good to be ignored. Even the 
censure of her cousin Frank Repplier, who considered the 
essay a disgracefully flippant and shameful effort and had 
begged her not to put it in, could not change her mind. 

In the October 1889 issue of the Atlantic, Miss Repplier 
had oflered an essay called "Fiction in the Pulpit." In it she 
took to task the novelist with a "cali," the public that wants 
to be edified as it is entertained, and, in general, the "intru- 
sion of ethics upon art," especially literary art. George 
Eliot, Charles Reade, Dickens, George Moore, Howells: ali 
come in for their share of criticism. 

But what made this paper particularly memorable was 
that Lowell read it and approved of it. He wrote to Horace 
Howard Furness: "I have just been reading with great en- 
joyment an essay on 'The Novelist in the Pulpit' of Miss 
Repplier, who, I believe, is a friend of yours— truly delight- 
ful!" The letter was passed on to its author who was under- 
standably elated by the praise. This was recommendation 
indeed. And what was perhaps even more gratifying, evi- 
dently the great man had forgiven her the trouble she had 
put him to over the business of her glasses on that first trip 
to Boston. 

"A Plea for Humor," a third essay in the volume, is a cry 
for less drabness in literature. It ends with a characteristic 



WIDER WORLDS 105 

display of wit: "This age of Apollinaris and of lectures is at 
fault, and . . . it has produced nothing which can vie as 
literature with the products of the ages of wine and song." 
"Literary Shibboleths," one of the best in the collection, 
ofTers in addition to a strong attack on pretense in reading, 
fine discriminating criticism of Russian and French fiction. 
But it is perhaps in "English Love-Songs" that the essayist 
is most effective. The paper presents a winning plea for the 
youthful beauties of Elizabethan and Caroline poetry as 
opposed to the analysis of the Brownings. And the evidence 
in behalf of the older love songs is unmatchable: "They 
are the models for ali love-songs and for ali time, and, in 
their delicate beauty, they endure like fragile pieces of 
porcelain, to prove how light a thing can bear the weight of 
immortality. ,, 

Foints of Vieiv had gone beyond Books and Men as sure- 
ly as "Children, Past and Present" had surpassed "Ruskin as 
a Teacher." 

ODO 

It was through Harrison Morris that Agnes Repplier 
met Walt Whitman. She found him a most astounding old 
man, though very simple, kind, and hospitable. He was 
boarding at the time in Camden, which to her mind was 
just about the most melancholy of ali possible ways of liv- 
ing. She was inclined to feel that part of Whitman's difrl- 
culty in getting along was due to his representing that city 
across the Delaware. What, she would ask, is Camden? 

On their first meeting Whitman served Miss Repplier 
whiskey in a china toothbrush mug. She drank it heroically. 
His little room was littered with old newspapers, and she 



106 AGNES REPPLIER 

was certain that one lighted match carelessly discarded 
would send him into another world. 

As for his poetry, the essayist admired it though she felt 
he had written only lines here and there that were truly 
worth remembering. She recognized that he always had 
the courage to be just what he wanted to be, that he never 
allowed anything to interfere with his life, and this she 
found an admirable quality. But she felt him to be an in- 
curable poseur. He loved his indecency, she insisted, cling- 
ing to it with almost embarrassing ardor. 

Then there was Thomas Eakins, the artist, who was very 
eager to paint Agnes Repplier's portrait. But she rather 
feared his uncompromising realism. She was tali and thin 
— "I would have had a much harder time of it had I been 
dumpy," she would remark— and she was perfectly willing 
to admit that she was "no beauty." She really was apprehen- 
sive of what Eakins would do to her, for, of course, he 
would have said it was her "character." 

George W. Childs Agnes Repplier met socially. She 
thought him greatly overpraised, even though he was a 
considerable philanthropist. "You have a brilliant future," 
he said to her on their first acquaintance. "Come to my 
onice soon." As if that constituted the entrance to a bril- 
liant future, Miss Repplier would laugh. But she did cali 
on Childs several times, and on each visit he presented her 
with a cup and saucer. They were as much his mark as ten- 
cent pieces later on in New York were Rockefeller's. Miss 
Repplier gathered quite a collection. But she thought he 
must reserve better ones for more important personages. 

Dr. S. Weir Mitchell and Horace Howard Furness were 
undoubtedly Agnes Repplier's two most important liter- 
ary friends in Philadelphia. Mitchell had a charm ali his 



WIDER WORLDS 107 

own. He was kindness itself to her, prof essing to admire her 
books more than he really did, she felt, out of a spirit of 
pure friendliness. A stately sort of person, he liked the 
formalities of life, and he entertained extensively. 

Miss Repplier considered Mitchell's novels dull if able. 
He wrote with real ability, but she thought his people 
never carne to life. She thought, too, that he composed 
very charming verse although not true poetry. She was 
of the opinion that his medicai reputation contributed 
greatly to his literary reputation, and that he was very 
proud indeed of the latter if somewhat indifferent to the 
former. 

Once a friend of Agnes Repplier's asked Mitchell to 
autograph one of his books for her. "Pd be delighted, my 
dear," said the doctor. "Which would you prefer?" Quite 
seriously the young woman mentioned a medicai treatise. 
Mitchell was furious. "You impudent hussy," he stormed. 
"Just for that, you'll get none." 

According to the essayist years later, Horace Howard 
Furness "inherited" her from his father, the Reverend Wil- 
liam Furness, a well-known Unitarian minister of the city. 
"He was a saint," Miss Repplier would say of him, adding, 
"and I am loath to acknowledge Unitarian saints!" A 
kindly, alert old gentleman, he had first become interested 
in the writer through her papers in the Atlantic. "Do you 
happen to know a Boston woman who is contributing to 
the Atlantic over the signature 'Agnes Repplier'?" he wrote 
to his friend Agnes Irwin, who, he knew, was well ac- 
quainted in Boston. "Bless you," Miss Irwin wrote in re- 
ply, "she lives at your very door. Once she was a student in 
my school in Philadelphia, and she lives there today." 

After the death of William Furness, Agnes Repplier con- 



108 AGNES REPPL1ER 

tinued her friendship with his son Horace Howard. The 
Shakespearean scholar and she had many interests in com- 
mon, books and cats being the dearest to their hearts. Again 
and again Miss Repplier visited Horace Furness at his home 
in Wallingford, frequently staying for several days at a 
time. Although the scholar was totally deaf, and somewhat 
sensitive about his disability, with the aid of an ear trumpet 
the two spent hours in good talk about books and people 
and their feline pets. 

Their friendship was far closer than that between the 
essayist and Mitchell, and there was nothing formai about 
their association. On one occasion following a visit by 
Agnes Repplier, Furness wrote to his sister: "You know 
how universally I am derided for my heated house. In this 
connection Agnes made me laugh. I felt a draught from the 
pantry which I feared was blowing on her back and asked 
if she so felt it. Her reply was instant and hearty: 'I thank 
God, I do!' " Nothing even remotely of the sort could have 
occurred at one of Mitchell's evenings. 

Although he was deaf, Furness was a remarkably effec- 
tive reader, particularly from his beloved Shakespeare. 
Everyone acknowledged his artistry, but no one was more 
certain of it than his sister Nannie. One evening the scholar 
was reading from Hamlet to a group of friends, Miss Irwin, 
Agnes Repplier, and Nannie among them, gathered in his 
library. Each one was charmed by his sensitive interpreta- 
tion, and Nannie most of ali. She sat in utter stillness, watch- 
ing every movement of her brother's lips, every gentle ges- 
ture of his hand. When he had finished, Nannie remained 
quiet a moment. Her eyes glistened, her gaze never waver- 
ing from her brother's face. Miss Irwin stepped quietly up 



WIDER WORLDS 109 

to her. "He didn't write it, you know, Nannie. Shakes- 
peare dici," she said. 

As for Harrison Morris, that friend of long standing, the 
formalities were breaking down between Agnes Repplier 
and him. One day he made bold to ask her and Miss Mary 
to dinner at the Falls Restaurant on the Wissahickon, and 
she wrote him: 

It is so very good in you to want to give me this pleasure that, 
for once and once only, I will lay aside my principles, aban- 
don my sentiments, and resign myself into your hands, to 
enjoy ali you wish to prò vide. My sister, having no such 
principles to resign, will be much pleased to accompany us. 

And again, in answer to one of his notes to her, the essay- 
ist commented: "What nice paper you wrote on; the first 
I have ever seen from you which fitted its envelope. I ad- 
mire it very much." 

ODO 

In the meantime, for ali the lecturing, clubs, and friends, 
Agnes Repplier was working steadily and with as great 
care and precision as ever. A fourth magazine had been 
opened to her: Life. Almost weekly for thirty years she 
was to contribute to the humorous journal. And on occa- 
sion the larger papers for the more serious periodicals be- 
gan as little sketches, scarcely a hundred words in length, 
that appeared in its pages. 

Eighteen-ninety-two saw the publication of two more 
volumes, one of Agnes Repplier's own writing, Essays in 
Miniature, and the other a collection of poems for children, 
A Book of Famous Verse, of which she acted as editor. 
Essays in Miniature, made up of sixteen papers, is lacking 



110 AGNES REPPLIER 

somcwhat in the same cxcellence of style as Points of Vieiv, 
though it is not without its quotable passages. But Agnes 
Repplier herself recognized the volume as not being up 
to the standard of her best work. Concerning it she wrote 
in reply to a note from Harrison Morris: "The book is bad. 
I guess I ought to know." 

Essays in Miniature may have added little to the distinc- 
tion of its author, but A Book of Famous Verse brought 
pleasant accompaniment, for it served as a second link in a 
growing friendship between Agnes Repplier and Andrew 
Lang, the English author and scholar, an epistolary friend- 
ship that had begun with her first essay in the Atlantic. 



CHAPTER VII 



Varia: Of Friends and 7 ravel 

1893-1900 

ooooooooooooooooooooooo 

In the spring and summer of 1893, Agnes Repplier took 
a trip west, on which she chaperoned two of her young 
friends, Agnes and Sarah Boone of Baltimore. The Boone 
girls had been students at Eden Hall where Miss Repplier 
discovered them when she returned to lecture there upon 
one occasion. In addition to the trip west, the three were 
to enjoy several seasons abroad together. And although the 
older woman was rather of the opinion that she never 
constituted the model chaperone, the girls thought her the 
ideal companion. 

Throughout almost the whole of the western trip, Agnes 
Repplier was concerned over the title for her latest collec- 
tion of essays. En route to Denver, she wrote to Harrison 
Morris: 



I have been thinking up some more titles which I submit to 
your judgment . . . Friends and Foes, Friends and Fables, 
An Idle Hour, Studies in Idleness, Essays in Idleness. The last 
I love, and will make a brave fight for, if it has your sanction. 
The sound at least is good. . . . 

Ili 



112 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Evidently Morris did not sanction "Essays in Idleness" 
but made other suggestions instead, for from Coronado 
Beach, California, Miss Repplier again wrote him: "I have 
promptly abandoned Essays in Idleness, and thank you 
heartily for both your letters. But, in truth, the substitutes 
please me no better." 

The letter concluded on a pathetic note: 

My naturai imbecility is enhanced by fatigue and sufTering; 
for what do you think I am doing in this most beautiful and 
glorious place? I am having the mumps for the first time in 
my life . . . As for my book, it must go without a title, I 
fear. . . . 

Morris responded shortly with another suggestion. And 
Miss Repplier answered from Santa Barbara: 

Thanks for Criteria. It is fine, but a little pretentious. I have 
sent it at once to H M & Co. [Houghton MifHin Company] 
together with ali the others, and left the choice to them . . . 
Miss P. gave me four titles. Appreciations, which belongs to 
Mr. Pater. Dieta, which belongs to Mr. Birrell. A Sheaf of 
Essays, which is bad, and Perceptions, which is good, and 
which I also sent to Boston. 

Two weeks later from Monterey, the essayist again 
posted her friend and adviser as to her progress in the mat- 
ter of a book title. In her letter she enclosed a note from 
her publishers who had chosen her favorite, "Essays in 
Idleness," as they said, "in spite of your own misgivings 
and the positive feeling of your 'skilled friend.' " Miss Rep- 
plier explained: "I wrote them at once to use the one of ali 
the titles they liked best, and I have washed my hands of 
the matter. But I am reinstated in my own conceit." 

As for the country, she "loved Yosemite, the glades by 
the Merced River, and San Francisco." And she added, "I 



VARIA: OF FRIENDS AND TRAVEL 113 

think that you would have enjoyed seeing me perched on 
a vicious grey mule, riding up one of the Yosemite 'trails,' 
in a state of mingled terror, bliss, and misery." 

But Harrison Morris was not to be put off so easily. He 
suggested "Criteria" again as a title. And Agnes Repplier 
wrote him from San Francisco: 

Upon my soul I think Criteria is fine. But you see my papers 
are none of them criticai. If they were, don't you think I 
would jump at such a title? But how can I write about cats* 
and such like, when I want to cali the book Criteria? 

And then, to soften her firm refusai of Morris' sugges- 
tion, Miss Repplier continued: 

They have beautiful cats in the Chinese Quarter of San Fran- 
cisco. And they are ali so tame and friendly! Down in the 
dreadful underground dwellings where the poorest people live, 
a dear little Chinese girl brought a splendid, huge Maltese cat, 
and placed him in my arms. 

Such sights as I have seen! The Chinese opium dens, and 
gambling hells, and theatre, and Joss House, and tea rooms! 
Such pretty Chinese women! Such fascinating shops! Such 
splendid moonlight flooding their beautiful gilded balconies. 
Really this is a delightful city, and we are having a delightful 
time. Jim Corbett the prize fighter is at our hotel, and sits 
near us in the dining-room. We admire him immensely, and 
went last night to see him in an idiotic pugilistic play called 
Gentleman Jack. There were two finely realistic scenes; one 
where he is training for his fight with Mitchell, and one where 
he wins it. We ali sat in a row, and applauded until the house 
shook. None of us had ever seen a prizefighter before . . . 
I have just been requested to teli the New York World "How 
I rest." A paper of two hundred words called 'Agnes Rep- 
plier's Methods." I explained that I didn't rest, and so could 
not oblige them. 

* "Agrippina" was to be the lead essay in the collection. 



114 AGNES REPPL1ER 

From the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey, the business of 
book titles now safely settled, Agnes Repplier wrote Har- 
rison Morris: 

The hotel is superb, and holds seven hundred people— mostly, 
as far as I can gather, millionaires. No other type of person 
appears to abide in California. Everybody says everybody else 
is worth twenty millions. It has a lovely sound . . . 

On by boat to Alaska, where "the sea was so cairn that we 
steered dose up to the gleaming walls of ice, towering high 
over our heads, and every shade of blue from pale sky to 
indigo," back and through the Yellowstone, then on home. 
The trip had been a revelation to Agnes Repplier: the 
Pacific coast was very beautiful, she found, particularly in 
comparison with the Atlantic coast she thought "so damned 



unattractive." 



D © O 



Essays in Idleness carne out in the fall of 1893. Of the 
eight papers contained in it, those on "Leisure" and "Wit 
and Humor" are perhaps the most interesting. The essayist 
writes in the former: 

It is self-culture that warms the chilly earth wherein no good 
seed can mature. . . . And for the training of one's self, leisure 
is requisite; leisure and that rare modesty which turns a man's 
thoughts back to his own shortcomings and requirements, and 
extinguishes in him the burning desire to enlighten his fellow- 
beings. . . . To study Greek in order to read and enjoy it, 
and thereby make life better worth the living, is a possibility 
that seldom enters the practical modem mind. . . . It is in his 
pleasure that a man really lives; it is from his leisure that he 
constructs the true fabric of self. 

The second of these two essays offers a penetrating dis- 
tinction between wit and humor: 



VARIA: OF FRIENDS AND TRAVEL 115 

Wit is artificial; humor is naturai. Wit is accidental; humor is 
inevitable. Wit is borri of conscious effort; humor, of the al- 
lotted ironies of fate. Wit can be expressed only in language; 
humor can be developed sufficiently in situation. Wit is the 
plaything of the intellectual, or the weapon of nimble minds; 
humor is the possession of ali sorts and conditions of men. 

Essays in Idleness was well received. The reviewer for 
the Atlantic spoke of Agnes Repplier in the same breath as 
of Charles Lamb and Leigh Hunt, which was gratifying to 
say the least. And in the Book News Monthly, the essayist 
read of her work: 

Miss Repplier's style is captivating, without being at ali grand 
or elaborate, and she has a vigor that is positiveiy masculine, 
combined with fine feminine sensibility. . . . She is certainly 
one of the most interesting fìgures in contemporary life. 

In spite of her own misgivings and the missing sanction 
of Harrison Morris, Essays in Idleness, title and ali, had 

come off well. 

© © © 

In October 1893, Agnes Repplier wrote to Morris: 

Will you write a story— a very short biographical notice for 
me for Scribner's Book Buyer, to accompany my picture which 
I have consented to send them? You need not say civil things, 
and I fancy you are already in possession of the few meagre 
facts. Born in Philadelphia— French extr action*— (That sounds 
well, and excuses a great deal). Thirty-six [actually thirty- 
eight], last Aprii— (This hideous detail might be softened 
vaguely). Wrote first for newspapers at home— Then for At- 
lantic Monthly— Mr. Aldrich my first good friend— Boston 
my most amiable critic— five books, counting the "Book of 
Famous Verse" . . . 

* Of a rather thin distillation, as a matter of fact; but Agnes Repplier 
had inherited her mother's fiction, though she was not altogether taken 
in by it. 



116 AGNES REPPL1ER 

The Book Buyer asked me to send the name of some one 
they could ask to write the notice; and Mrs. Wister* being in 
Chicago— you are my only hope. 

This letter was followed by another giving further in- 
formation on the request of Harrison Morris: 

Here are some points. 

1. While it took years to teach me to read, and while I 
never could learn to cipher, my memory, as a little child, was 
considered abnormal. My mother taught me orally intermin- 
able poems, which I learned without labour, and loved without 
understanding, held by the beauty of the words. "A simple 
and sensuous delight." 

2. What I know— such as it is— has always been acquired in 
the same unconscious spirit, and through the pleasure I took 
to it. Ali that I have ever striven to learn has been speedily 
forgotten. 

3. I can only work in the morning and for three or four 
hours. Then I grow tired and stupid. The pleasure is gone, and 
I have to stop. So I don't accomplish a great deal, try as I 
may. Neither do I work with ease, but with infinite painstaking. 

4. I dearly love social life, and amusing people. But I abhor 
(and here my French blood counts) the intrusion of serious 
matters into idle talk. I like conversation as an art, and in ali 
arts, the form is more to me than the substance. 

Harrison Morris willingly complied with the essayist's 
request, sending in a few weeks' time a sketch for her ap- 
provai. As might be expected from one so careful in ali her 
writing, Miss Repplier carne upon a few statements in it to 
which she took polite but adamant exception. Morris re- 
ferred to her family as "The Reppliers;" he stated that Mrs. 
Barbauld had been read to her at home; and he remarked 
that "The genius of cleanliness presided over [her desk]." 

* Mrs. Caspar Wister, sister of Horace Howard Furness, and trans- 
lator of a number of German novels. 



VARIA: OF FRIENDS AND TRAVEL 117 

Agnes Repplier returned his sketch to him post haste plus 
three changes: 

Thank you very much, and please, please pardon the three 
corrections I have dared to make. "The Reppliers," like the 
Jameses or the Robinsons, sets my teeth on edge. I have never 
read or heard a word of Mrs. Barbauld's in my life, and I never 
want to.* And I cannot bear to have the world informed that 
I am clean— It is like telling it I am virtuous. One hopes so 
indeed! 

For the rest, you are far too kind— I am neither so clever 
nor so nice, I fear, as you have made me out. 

Harrison Morris made the alterations suggested by his 
subject, and the sketch was duly published in the January 
1894 issue of the Book Buyer, becoming thus the first of a 
series of biographical accounts of the essayist that were to 
appear now and again to the delight and interest of her 
ever-growing public. 

o o o 

The spring of 1894 found Agnes Repplier again accorri- 
panying the Boone sisters on a trip, this time to Europe and 
the Near East. On the journey to the West, she had dis- 
covered that they were the best of traveling companions. 
Although some years her junior, they never seemed to 
realize the difference in ages, except that Miss Repplier felt 
them kinder to her than they would perhaps have been to 
a younger woman. 

The trip began none too auspiciously. From Paris Agnes 
Repplier wrote to Harrison Morris: 

* Apparently Miss Repplier had forgotten her reference to Mrs. Bar- 
bauld in "Children, Past and Present." 



118 AGNES REPPLIER 

Mr. Talcott Williams has just given me the doleful informa- 
tion that Miss Irwin has been offered the head of Radcliffe, 
Harvard's Annex, and that he fears she will accept. If Bos- 
ton steals her from us, I shall be more unhappy and more furi- 
ous than words can ever express. 

Boston did "steal" Miss Irwin from Philadelphia and her 
friends there, and Miss Repplier was for a time at least 
"furious." But the future actualky was to pass before the 
pressure of other matters, just as now even the very thought 
of it was to be dimmed by the excitement of the trip be- 
fore her, the main high light of which was to be the meet- 
ing, so long looked forward to, with Andrew Lang in 
London. 

© © © 

Shortly after "Children, Past and Present" had appeared 
in the Atlantic Monthly, a correspondence had sprung up 
between Agnes Repplier and Andrew Lang. It had been 
entirely of his provoking, induced, it seems, by her more 
or less casual reference to Guibert de Nogent in that essay. 

Lang's letters to her, which arrived steadily at frequent 
intervals, Miss Repplier found almost unpardonably diffi- 
cult to decipher, taking the better part of a month for her 
to speli out. But they were well worth ali the effort. The 
essayist found Lang to be a scholar who took himself light- 
ly, an unbeatable combination as far as she was concerned. 
He was flippant to the last degree, but she never grew tired 
of his lightheartedness, for his was a flippancy grounded 
on solid worth. 

At about the same time she had edited A Book of Famous 
Verse, Lang published a somewhat similar collection which 



VARIA: OF FRIENDS AND TRAVEL 119 

he called the Blue Book of Poetry. And considerable ban- 
ter had passed between the two over their work. Lang's 
selection had been made con amore; that was plainly evi- 
dent. He had had a free hand. But Agnes Repplier had been 
requested— almost required— to include certain poems for 
which she held no great love. 

Guibert de Nogent, A Book of Famous Verse, a steady 
correspondence, and now at long last the meeting. Miss 
Repplier wrote to Harrison Morris: 

Mr. Lang is sulky and irresistibly charming; tali, lean, grey, 
and very handsome; with a single eye glass, a delightful smile, 
and a manner at once awkward and supercilious. He gave me 
a beautiful dinner when I first reached London, and was very 
good to me afterwards. 

Lang took Agnes Repplier to a cricket match at Lord's 
"where, for once, he brightened into real enjoyment." But 
after the grand scrimmage of baseball, of which the Amer- 
ican was very f ond, she f ound cricket dull indeed. It seemed 
an overiy gentlemanly game in which the players appar- 
ently did nothing but strike beautiful attitudes. 

Later the two went to the British Museum, to the Graf- 
ton Gallery, and to tea. As it turned out, to her great amuse- 
ment, Miss Repplier had to lend her escort the money to 
cover the cost of the refreshment, for Lang discovered that 
he had only two shillings sixpence in his pocket. His com- 
panion was equally amazed both by the Englishman's bland 
unconcern and by the fact that, for a wonder, she had the 
necessary amount with her. 

During the course of her stay in London, Agnes Rep- 
plier was taken by the attentive Lang to one of Mrs. Hum- 
phry Ward's receptions— "a trifle dull"— and to supper 



120 AGNES REPPLIER 

at Gosse's— "which was not." Then there was a "Bohemian" 
dinner at Elizabeth Pennell's and a "very staid luncheon" 
at Mrs. Fisher Unwin's "where we talked about anarchy 
and women's rights." The round of events, which Miss 
Repplier found perfectly overwhelming, carne to a fitting 
and imposing conclusion with an introduction to Saints- 
bury of considerable and unassailable renown. 

Lang had executed his duty with gentlemanly correct- 
ness. But he had had enough. "He bade me a cheerful fare- 
well when I left London," the essayist confessed years 
later, "and he ne ver wrote to me again. The inference is 
tolerably plain. ..." 

o © o 

Agnes Repplier wrote to Harrison Morris from Ulls- 
water, wishing him well on his coming marriage to Miss 
Anna Wharton, daughter of Joseph Wharton of Phila- 
delphia: 

We have "rested" now at Ullswater in a most admirable hotel, 
with the lakes at our feet, and a chain of mountains girdling 
us round, and any number of beautiful walks— which we don't 
take— stretching in every direction. We are the only Ameri- 
cans here, and the English people, I am sure, think that we 
are mad, or have lost the use of our limbs. 

Ambleside, and Grasmere, and Rydal, and Keswick, ali the 
exquisite country which Wordsworth and Coleridge made 
holy ground, would delight your eyes and heart. At Grasmere 
you can follow Wordsworth step by step, recognizing each 
source of inspiration. At Hawkshead is stili standing the dear 
old grammar school where he went as a boy, and had so much 
liberty given him to roam. His grave at Grasmere is very sim- 
ple, and his little monument in the church not half so fine as 
Southey's at Crosthwaite. But then, Heaven knows, Southey 



VARIA: OF FRIENDS AND TRAVEL 121 

deserves ali that admiring friends could do for him. De Quin- 
cey, Hartley Coleridge, and Clough have left their records 
here; and in the hotel at which we stayed in Bowness there 
is stili preserved, in the little old bar, the chair that Christopher 
North sat in when he ate the famous suppers of the "Noctes."* 
We sail three weeks from to-day, a melancholy thought for 
those who hate the sea. We try not to think about it, and yet, 
with feminine instinct for self-torture, we remind each other 
continually how brief our respite is. . . . 

ODO 

The next half-dozen years were crowded and important 
ones for Agnes Repplier. In them she was to travel twice 
again to Europe, to see the publication of three more books, 
to undergo a serious operation, and growing out of this 
last, to make a friend who was to be her staunch admirer 
and companion for many a happy year. 

On both the trips abroad Miss Repplier was accompanied 
by Sarah and Agnes Boone. An infinity of places had been 
missed on the earlier journey, and Baedeker 's handy little 
volumes— "one star, look at; two stars, look hard; three stars, 
look very hard"— were ne ver out of reach. 

Other books traveled with them, too. One summer it was 
Carlyle's Frederick the Great, out of which they would 
read to each other while waiting for train connections. The 
Boone girls agreed after wading through the seventeen 
volumes Carlyle had managed to fili that they knew no one 
in real life half so well as they knew Frederick. 

The second trip, coming in 1900, was made particularly 
memorable by an audience with the Pope. Not always did 
the "Woos," as Agnes Repplier called her charges, perform 

* Noctes Ambrosianae, a series of imaginary conversations by John 
Wilson (Christopher North), Blackivood's Magazine, 1822-35. 



122 AGNES REPPLIER 

as they were supposed to, but on this august occasion their 
behavior was beyond reproach. Miss Repplier was almost 
as impresseci by their unwonted dignity as she was by the 
pontiff himself. 

Wherever they went, whatever the sight to see, Agnes 
and Sarah were agreed that their chaperone— this incom- 
parable person who in a moment of whimsey had written 
on her passport: "Face, broad; Complexion, sallow; Mouth, 
too large"— was not only the "best in Philadelphia," as Lady 
Astor once said in their presence, but, indeed, the best in 
the world. 

D © O 

In the Dozy Hours, published in 1894, a collection of 
twenty short essays, is one of Agnes Repplier's best vol- 
umes. The title essay presents a delightful account of au- 
thors for "the dozy hours" and their "bedside books." 
Charles Lamb and Madame de Sévigné among the letter 
writers, Jane Austen among novelists, Herrick, Marvell, 
Gray, Cowper, Keats, and Tennyson among poets: these 
the essayist heartily recommends. 

The essay on "Lectures" is one of the most appealing in 
the volume. 

Is it industry or a love of sport which makes us sit in long 
and solemn rows in an oppressively hot room, blinking at 
glaring lights, breathing a vitiated air, wriggling on straight 
and narrow chairs, and listening, as well as heat and fatigue and 
discomfort will permit, to a lecture which might just as well 
have been read peacefully by our own flresides? . . . The 
necessity of knowing a little about a great many things is the 
most grievous burden of our day. It deprives us of leisure 
on the one hand, and of scholarship on the other. 



VARIA: OF FRIENDS AND TRAVEL 123 

"Reviewers and Reviewed" offers a witty yet reasonable 
defense of the harried critici 

It is urged . . . against newspaper critics that they read only 
a small portion of the books which they pretend to criticize. 
This, I believe, is true, and it accounts for the good-humor 
and charity they display. If they read the whole, we should 
have a band of misanthropes who would spare neither age nor 
sex, and who would gain no clearer knowledge of their sub- 
jects through this fearful sacrifice of time and temper. 

The essayist asks in "Sympathy," a paper deriding the 
business of digging up little faults of great men: 

What can we say to people who talk to us anxiously about 
Byron's unkindness to Leigh Hunt, and Dr. Johnson's illiberal 
attitude towards Methodism, and Scott's incomprehensible 
friendship for John Ballantyne: who remind us with austere 
dissatisfaction that Goldsmith did not pay his debts, and that 
Lamb drank more than was good for him, and that Dickens 
dressed badly and wore flashy jewelry? 

Her answer is characteristically direct: 

I don't care what Dickens wore. I would not care if he had 
decorated himself with bangles, and anklets, and earrings, and 
a nosering, provided he wrote "Pickwick" and "David Cop- 
perfield." If there be any living novelist who can give us such 
another as Sam Weller, or Dick Swiveller, or Mr. Micawber, 
or Mrs. Gamp, or Mrs. Nickleby, let him festoon himself with 
gauds from head to foot, and wedge his fingers "knuckle- 
deep with rings," like the lady in the old song, and then sit 
down and write. The world will readily forgive him his 
embellishments. 

In the Dozy Hours proved no real task for Agnes Rep- 
plier. And it was received with the same quiet, sincere en- 
thusiasm that had greeted her previous books. Philadelphia, 



124 AGNES REPPL1ER 

too, undertaken at the request of Macmillan for their 
"Travel Series," and brought out in 1898, save for the neces- 
sary research involved, went easily enough. But Varia was 
a difTerent matter. 

As with Essays in Idleness, it was not the selection of the 
individuai papers that caused the concern, but an appropri- 
ate title. In February 1897, Agnes Repplier wrote to Har- 
rison Morris, her confldant in ali such matters: "Do you 
think 'Life and Lettere' would be a good title for my new 
book? It will have five literary papers, two historical ditto, 
and two sketches of travel. Or 'Letters and Life'?" 

Morris responded with a list of suggested titles. And in 
reply Agnes Repplier wrote: "Mrs. Oliphant has pre- 
empted 'The Primrose Path' for one of her novels. I like 
'Voyages at Anchor' immensely if it be appropriate. 'By 
Land and Letters' combines the travel sketches and literary 
papers." 

Later she sent him a lengthy collection of titles, confess- 
ing: "I am played out. And none are good. It is the hardest 
thing in Christendom ..." 

But Morris was not discouraged. He made further sug- 
gestions, among them the title finally adopted. 

In the fall of 1897 the volume appeared, and early the 
following January Miss Repplier wrote to her friendly 
adviser: "I did not send you Varia, because I was oppressed 
with doubts as to whether you wanted it, though it be 
your god-child. I am glad you do, and it will be a pleasure 
for me to give you the book." 

Harrison Morris read Varia with keen enjoyment and so 
informed its author. "I am glad you like Varia," she wrote 
him, "that is if you really did like it, and those were not 



VARIA: OF FRIENDS AND TRAVEL 125 

lying civilities you uttered. I am very much pleased with 
the title, although I have been asked if it were a novel I had 
published. People think it a heroine's name." 

The critics were not so deceived. They recognized Varia 
for what it truly was. "Miss Repplier's function in litera- 
ture," one commented, "is that of the busy bee. She hovers 
over and enters into books . . . and returns thence laden 
with staff . . . which will pass very well for honey." And 
another said of this latest volume: "It has insight and hu- 
mor; it is light-hearted and open-minded." 

"The Eternai Feminine" offers a protest against 

the monotonous repetition of a phrase which catches and 
holds the public fancy by virtue of its total lack of signifìcance 
—"the new woman." It has been received with seriousness by 
those who read the present with no light from the past, and 
so fail to perceive that ali femininity is as old as Lilith, and that 
the variations of the type began when Ève arrived in the 
Garden of Paradise to dispute the claims of her predecessor. 
"If the fifteenth century discovered America," says a vehement 
advocate of female progress, "it was reserved for the nineteenth 
century to discover woman;" and this remarkable statement has 
been gratefully applauded by people who have apparently for- 
gotten ali about Judith and Zenobia, Cleopatra and Catherine 
de Medici, Saint Theresa and Jeanne dArc, Catherine of Rus- 
sia and Elizabeth of England, who played parts of some im- 
portance, for good and ili, in the fortunes of the world. 

"The Deathless Diary" is of particular interest, for in it 
the essayist makes and justifies a confessioni 

Four ways there are of telling a curious world that endless 
story of the past which it is never tired of hearing. History, 
memoir, biography, and the diary run back like four smooth 
roads, connecting our century, our land, our life, with other 
centuries and lands and lives that have ali served in turn to 
make us what we are. Of these four roads, I like the narrow- 



126 AGNES REPPL1ER 

est best. . . . Diaries teli their little tales with a directness, a 
candor, conscious or unconscious, a closeness of outlook, 
which gratifies our sense of security. Reading them is like gaz- 
ing through a small clear pane of glass. We may not see far 
and wide, but we see very distinctly that which comes within 
our fìeld of vision. 

In "Cakes and Ale" Miss Repplier strikes a note akin to 
that of "English Love-Songs" several years earlier. She de- 
clares in this essay: 

Why, we may drink nothing stronger than tea and Apol- 
linaris water aìl our lives; yet none the less the mad music of 
Elizabethan song will dance merrily in our hearts, and give 
even to us our brief hour of illogical, unreasonable happiness. 

"Old Wine and New" is a lament that modem history 
books have fallen far below the happy standard of cen- 
turies past. Froissart and his Chronìcles are unfortunately 
no longer considered proper models, the essayist points out. 
She comments with teiling effect: 

No one of the sister Muses has lent herself so unreservedly 
to the demands of an exacting generation as Clio, who, shorn 
of her splendor, sits spectacled before a dusty table strewn 
with Acts of Parliament and Acts of Congress, and forgets the 
glories of the past in the absorbing study of constitutions. She 
traces painfully the successive steps by which the sovereign 
power has passed from the king to the nobles, from the nobles 
to the nation, and from the nation to the mob, and asks her- 
self interesting but fruitless questions as to what is coming 
next. She has been divorced from literature . . . and wedded 
to science, that grim but amorous lord whose harem is toler- 
ably full already, but who lusts perpetually for another bride. 

For ali the concern its title had given Agnes Repplier, 
Varia meant only delight for her readers. 

ODO 



VARIA: OF FR1ENDS AND TRAVEL 127 

In later years Miss Repplier was ne ver quite certain just 
how she carne to know that the same disease which had 
caused her mother's death was making sharp inroads upon 
her own none too strong constitution. Never a very robust 
person, she was feeling weaker, more tired than usuai the 
winter of 1896, though no word as to the real nature of her 
illness crept into her correspondence with Harrison Morris, 
recipient of ali manner of trial s as far as her books were 
concerned. 

But one day she did write calmly and quietly of it to 
Sarah Boone in Baltimore. "There's no disgrace about can- 
cer," she explained. "So I don't see why I need keep it a 
secret. It's not as if I had contracted it through some wilful 
act of my own." 

Dr. J. William White of the University of Pennsylvania 
Medicai School, a surgeon of considerable fame, was rec- 
ommended to her by her physician. She went to him and 
was told that an operation would be ali that could save her. 
And with the same calmness that she had written to Sarah 
Boone, she received the news. It had ali come about too 
suddenly for her to be frightened. If an operation was 
necessary, then the sooner over with, the better. 

Throughout her remaining years, Agnes Repplier felt 
that she owed her life to White, as, in ali actuality, she did. 
But more than that, after the operation had been success- 
fully accomplished and a strong bond of friendship had 
grown up between the bluff, sports-loving doctor and his 
gratifyingly brave patient, she felt she could not get along 
very well without him. It was always a source of amaze- 
ment to her after White's death some years later that she 
had indeed outlived the man who she was certain was keep- 
ing her alive. 



128 AGNES REPPL1ER 

In her biography of White, Miss Repplier wrote: 

Above and beyond ali other qualities must be reckoned his 
courageous acceptance and enjoyment of life. He feared it as 
little as he feared death. He never held back his hand from 
its favours because they carry danger in their wake. He never 
inquired too curiously if the game were worth the candle. He 
took royally what was his, and paid the price in full. There is 
a matchless sentence of Mr. Chesterton's which describes, as 
no words of mine can ever describe, this sane and valorous 
attitude: "The truest kinship with humanity lies in doing as 
humanity has always done, accepting with sportsmanlike relish 
the estate to which we are called, the star of our happiness, 
and the fortunes of the land of our birth." 

These gifts Dr. White took unshrinkingly from the hand 
of fate, and of them he built the strong and splendid f abric of 
his life. 

No tribute could have been more simply put nor more 
sincerely f elt. 

ODO 

It was the year 1900. Agnes Repplier was approaching 
the midway mark. Not very far in the future she was to 
offer A Happy Half-Century to her readers. 

And in the main it had been happy. She had accomplished 
her duty tour of the United States with more pleasure than 
pain; she had reveled in the luxurious abundance of Europe. 
She had made many friends for herself, if a scattering of 
enemies— crabbed souls who never knew when not to take 
her seriously. But most of ali, she had won a reputation that 
was well on its way to being the envy of those who aspire 
to write, not for the glutton masses, but for the gourmet 
few. 



CHAPTER Vili 

Agrippina 

1900 

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODOOOOOO 

Although Agnes Repplier owned more than one cat 
down through the years, the nearest and dearest to her heart 
always was Agrippina. In telling of a successor to this fa- 
mous feline, she wrote: 

There is something indescribably sweet in the quiet, self-re- 
specting friendliness of my cat, in her marked predilection for 
my society. The absence of exuberance on her part, and the 
restraint I put upon myself, lend an element of dignity to our 
intercourse. Assured that I will not presume too far on her 
good nature, that I will not indulge in any of those gross fa- 
miliarities, those boisterous gambols which delight the heart 
of a dog, Lux yields herself more and more passively to my 
persuasions. She will permit an occasionai caress, and acknowl- 
edge it with a perfunctory purr. She will manifest a patroniz- 
ing interest in my work, stepping sedately among my papers, 
and now and then putting her paw with infinite deliberation 
on the page I am writing, as though the smear thus contributed 
spelt "Lux, her mark," and was a reward of merit. But she 
never curls herself upon my desk, never usurps the place sacred 
to the memory of a far dearer cat. Some invisible influence re- 
strains her. When her tour of inspection is ended, she returns 
to her chair by my side, stretching herself luxuriously on her 
cushions, and watching with steady, sombre stare the inhibited 
spot, and the little grey phantom which haunts my lonely hours 
by right of my inalienable love. 

129 



130 AGNES REFPLIER 

Even Nero (a hard name perhaps for an inno cent kitten, 
but what else might Agrippina's first-born be called?) 
could not replace Agrippina. True, she was not the first 
in point of time. There had been cats— and dogs, though of 
these Agnes Repplier was never particularly fond— in the 
early days of her childhood. They ali had vanished after 
a few weeks so mysteriously that even then the little girl 
had suspected some heartìess outside force, such as her 
mother. But Agrippina, that first cat of the essayist's matu- 
rity, remained forever first in her affections. 

She had been presented to Miss Repplier by a friend 
who brought her wrapped snugly in a muff . And from the 
moment she laid eyes on her, Agnes Repplier knew that 
this would be the only cat. Poor thing— she was not des- 
tined to live very long, and perhaps the shortness of her 
earthly career made her the more pathetically endearing. 
Agrippina died in kitten-birth, a worthy and noble end, no 
doubt, but tragic too. 

Once, years after, Miss Repplier was asked with becom- 
ing circumlocution if she had ever allowed Agrippina to 
exercise her naturai prerogative. (This was before the cause 
of the cat's death had been made known to her interro- 
gator.) The essayist laughed gleefully. "My dear," she said 
when she had regained sufficient control of herself, "I 
preached virginity to Agrippina till I was blue in the face. 
But she'd howl, so l'd kiss her and put her out in the alley!" 

In ali things just, Agnes Repplier was not one to con- 
demn her little charge to the same fate that was to be her 
own. She had the generosity to allow Agrippina to consort 
with her common friends, for, as she would confess, "I 
hadn't any choice in the matter." 

© © © 



AGRIPPINA 131 

It was while Miss Repplier was living in the Locust Street 
house that Agrippina was brought to her. And it was on the 
little desk in the second-floor front room that Agrippina 
was wont to play. There she and her mistress would pass 
the time, the author in endeavoring conscientiously to write 
while the cat was just as bent on keeping her from so doing. 

At Sunday-night supper Agrippina was guest of honor. 
She took precedence even over Harrison Morris and Dr. 
Jastrow, most frequent partakers of the f easts. Jastrow was 
almost as fond of the cat as was her owner. He thought it 
only right that Agrippina should come first. But not so 
Morris. And with the unerring judgment that only cats 
possess, Agrippina invariably chose his lap on which to 
settle down comfortably. 

One evening Agrippina took it into her uninhibited little 
head to climb first to the mantelpiece, then to jump six 
feet to the top of a bookcase, next to hang precariously 
from a dangerously swinging picture, and finally to land 
squarely on the protesting Harrison Morris seated on a 
sofà below. 

"Miserable stable-born cat!" he exclaimed. "The airs she 
gives herself. Might think she was a royal princessi " 

Miss Repplier and her other guest were doubled over 
with delight. And even Agrippina seemed pleased with her 
performance. 

© © © 

Agnes Repplier always doubted persons who talked of 
the affection of their cats. "Their very indifference is so 
honest," she would protest. "What they hold back rather 
than what they give attracts. 'It is more blessed to give 



132 AGNES REPPLIER 

than to receive'— and you do with cats. A dog pathetically 
tries to break down the barriers between him and you, but 
a cat lives its own life. A cat withdraws. We know little 
about them— although they're wise little beasts." 

Cats are without morals, she insisted always, and they are 
perfectly democratic. Dogs are snobs, preferring a mate 
in their own class. But as for cats, any old tom in the alley 
will please them. Consider Agrippina. She had a black 
lo ver, an alley lo ver. But he suite d her. She was completely 
satisfied with him even if he had never seen the inside of a 
decent home. Agrippina was democratic. And Agrippina 
was the best of ali. 

The essayist much preferred ordinary cats to the pedi- 
greed variety. "They're far more intelligent, anyway," she 
would explain. And females were more to her liking than 
males— even though "they ivill have kittens." As for alter ed 
toms, she had no use for them, although such had not al- 
ways been the case. In her convent days, "aitar cats," as she 
had mistakenly thought them called, were the source of 
considerable speculation and mystery to her. She supposed 
them to be some peculiar church breed that only the very 
pious might own. 

Cats have always got on with scholars, Agnes Repplier 
knew, because scholars sit stili for long periods of time at 
their work. Cats like quiet people. They heartily approve 
of a sedentary life— in others, that is. And, of course, her 
own incomparable cat approved, though she never exhib- 
ited any profound respect for her mistress' learning. 

"Oh, yes, it's a great thing to be dowered with beauty," 
Miss Repplier would admonish Agrippina. "And it's espe- 
cially great for a female. You were born beautiful, remem- 



AGRIPPINA 133 

ber— no merit to you, you little beast . . . And it's very 
unfair, dear, FU teli you now. Very unfair. You'll be cher- 
ished ali your life long. Yes, Agrippina, Providence is as un- 
fair to cats as to women. Because you're such a beauty, 
you'll have a happy time of it ali the way. Many an alley cat 
has just as good a heart, but no beauty. Nothing but brains 
— as I have. And nobody wants them. But they support me. 
Which beauty doesn't always do." 

And then as Agrippina would prepare to forestali further 
comment by curling up and going to sleep: "There, now! 
What would I be doing if I slept ali the time? What walls 
would be about me? I can't please anybody just by lying 
asleep. But you . . . Well, you don't have to work for 
a living. And I suppose you wouldn't care if I wrote like 
Shakespeare. You blind little cat!" 

ODO 

There is a sweet and sunny corner of the Elysian fields, where 
drowse and play, and drowse and play forever, a little band 
of cats, whose names, imperishable as their masters', are house- 
hold words today. We know them well, these gentle furry 
ghosts, lifted to immortality by the human hands that fondled 
them in life. We know the white Muezza whom Mohammed 
loved, and Bouhaki of Thebes, proudest of his proud race, and 
Dick Whittington's thrice famous cat that made his master's 
fortune. We know this sleek and shining tortoiseshell, for she 
is Selima, fair and ill-fated, whom the glint of gold-fish tempted 
to her grave. This pensive pussy with clear topaz eyes shared 
Petrarch's heart with Laura; this splendid beast, red as a fox 
and stately as a lion, is Chateaubriand's Micetto, the sovereign 
PontifFs gift; and his no less arrogant companion sat, it is whis- 
pered, by the side of Wolsey, when the butcher's son was 
Chancellor of England. 
Montaigne's great cat is here, indolently supercilious as in 



134 AGNES REPPLIER 

old earthly days; and Victor Hugo's Chanoine, the sleepiest 
puss in Paradise; and Baudelaire's mysterious pet, with pale 
fìre gleaming 'neath his half-shut lids; and Moumotte Bianche 
and Moumotte Chinoise, rivals for M. Loti's fluctuating afTec- 
tions, and the superò dynasties, both white and black, that ruled 
for years over M. Gautier's heart and home. Here, too, is 
"great Atossa," sung into fame by Mr. Arnold; and that sedate 
and serious tabby who slept too long in Cowper's bureau 
drawer. And— honored of ali their race— here are two happy 
and distinguished cats whom we cannot remember without 
envy, nor name without respect,— Dr. Johnson's Hodge, and 
Hinse of Hinsefeld, the wise companion of Sir Walter Scott. 
Into this august assembly, into this sacred circle, I fain in 
moments of temerity would introduce a little shade who stole 
too soon from the warm sun, and from the simple joys of life. 
She was dearly loved and early lost, and the scanty honours 
years of toil have brought me I lay at her soft feet for entrance 
fee. May Hodge and Hinse champion her cause with the Im- 
mortals for the sake of the unfaltering love I have ever borne 
their masters, and may her grace and beauty win for her what 
my poor pen is powerless to attain! Dear little ghost, whose 
memory has never faded from my heart, accept this book, ded- 
icated to thee, and to ali thy cherished race. Sleep sweetly in 
the flelds of asphodel, and waken, as of old, to stretch thy lan- 
guid length, and purr thy soft contentment to the skies. I 
only beg, as one before me begged of her dead darling, that, 
midst the joys of Elysium, I may not be wholly forgotten. 

"Nor, though Persephone's own Puss you be, 
Let Orcus breed oblivion of me." 

This the Foreword to Agnes Repplier's book about cats, 
The Fireside Sphinx, which she humbly offered to the mem- 
ory of her beloved Agrippina. 

She sent a copy of the volume to Horace Howard Fur- 
ness at whose "Lindenshade," in Wallingford, the remains 
of Agrippina lay buried. He wrote in reply: 



AGRIPPINA 135 

After reading your exquisite, exquisite Preface last evening, I 
breathed a holy vow that Agrippina's resting-place should 
be incontinently marked by a headstone, diminutive but pro- 
portionate. Is the simple name carved therein sufficient? or will 
you send me the years of her birth and death? 

Had she any love of humour beyond the resources of her 
tail, whereby she would relish the addition of "Requies-cat"? 
Not for worlds would I cause that shade a shade of annoy- 
ance. . . . 

Do you remember in which direction, North or South, her 
poor little head rests? Our house faces due South. 

The thoughtful word was passed along to Harrison 
Morris with considerable satisfaction seeing that he had 
borne the cat no love: "Dr. Furness," Miss Repplier wrote, 
"is putting up a marble stone over Agrippina's grave. I am 
deeply touched, and very mudi pleased." 

And she added: "I do hope you'll like [The Fireside 
Sphinx]. I adore it— quite impersonally— and don't dare to 
pick it up, lest I waste my time re-reading it. That comes of 
doing— once in a lifetime— something one wants to do." 

ODO 

Of ali Agnes Repplier's friends, Horace Howard Furness 
alone loved cats as much as she. Whole evenings were spent 
between the two in doing nothing more than relating the 
various exploits of their particular pets. Cats were worthy 
of their talk, they felt; the subject needed neither expla- 
nation nor apology. 

Together they sympathized with an unf ortunate if beau- 
tiful cat, belonging to a New England friend of the essay- 
ist's, that was required to consume its meal in the kitchen 
along with the servants and out of a common, ordinary 



136 AGNES REPPLIER 

dish, whereas Ruzzie, a superannuated setter of the same 
household, had a collection of fine Russian bowls from 
which to eat. 

"And to think," Agnes Repplier exploded with mount- 
ing indignation as she told the lamentable story, "Mrs. W. 
said she would rather hear Ruzzie lapping his water— which 
he does with a horrid noise— than listen to a symphony con- 
cert! Of course, I said I would, too," she was forced to ad- 
mit in view of her own well-known dislike for music, "but 
it was a bitter alternative." 

For years Furness had owned a striped cat of uncertain 
origin that answered— when he wanted to— to the name of 
Romeo. He was, as Miss Repplier declared, quite a regular 
institution, the principal actor in a little comedy that took 
place every twenty-four hours with the regularity of clock- 
work. Night after night, when it carne time for him to shut 
things up securely, the patient Shakespearean scholar would 
go out onto the porch of his home and cali: "Romeo! 
Romeo!" To which plaintive cry his friend could not keep 
from adding, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" on those 
occasions when she was witness to the performance. 

Furness' particular love was reserved for two Siamese 
cats he imported with the express purpose of raising a long 
line of thoroughbreds. But however mating may be man- 
aged in catteries Miss Repplier could never understand, 
for as she put it, "Banshee had a common alley lo ver, and 
Banquo sired bastards ali over the country!" 

It is true that as kittens they were affectionate little crea- 
tures. (Later, the essayist noted, they were too occupied 
with family affairs— and not of Furness' choosing, either— 
for so simple an expression of feeling.) He had written to 
her upon their arrivai: 



AGRIPPINA 137 

I am longing to show you the pride of my heart and the joy 
of my soul:— two Siamese kittens! 

I did not dare to ask you to come and see them until now. 

After an ocean voyage, during which they had never been 
taken out of their box, I couldn't diagnose the state of their 
health with sufficient assurance to venture to exhibit them. 
But now I believe them to be so far convalescent that their 
bewitching antics would fascinate the soul of a Danish wolf- 
hound. Of their efTect on your tender heart I dare not 
think . . . 

I am a little selfish in my wishes that the kittens may show 
off before you in their best style, because if they are sluggish 
I shall have to perforai their antics myself, and I'm a little 
stifiish in the joints for playing with a cork and a string. But 
FU do my best, although it is a little rough on my dress coat 
when I have to He on my back and claw the cork with my 
legs. 

Miss Repplier lost no time in paying her respects to Ban- 
quo and Banshee, as Furness shortly thereafter reported 
to his sister: 

On Monday Agnes Repplier carne hither to dinner . . . solely 
to see the Siamese kittens. And her enthusiasm was entirely sat- 
isfactory. The minute she entered your parlour, where I was 
seated, with the little creatures scurrying hither and thither, 
she seated herself on the floor and gathered the kittens into her 
bosom, exclaiming with delight over their affectionate purr- 
ings. It must be a stony heart, flt only for stratagems and 
spoils, that can resist them. 

But before very long, Banshee— and presumably Banquo 
as well— was up to the questionable tricks for which fate 
and her democratic nature had marked her. And one day 
Miss Repplier received a pathetic note from her learned 
friend announcing his darling's first misstep: 

Four little strangers were welcomed yesterday into this feline 
and unfeeling world, but one immediately departed this life 
without waiting for his allotted other eight. 



138 AGNES REPPLIER 

Of the three survivors, one is as black as my hat,— possibly 
blacker seeing that this article was purchased last summer in 
London,— and the other two are one mottled ali over. Pray 
God, the moth°r has been honest! 

I knew you'd want to have the earliest news. 

Fortunately for Banshee and her ofTspring, Furness was 
no narrow-minded puritan. He was as concerned over the 
welfare of the latest addition to his household as he would 
have been had the union of which they were the result been 
honored with his blessing. 

When Miss Repplier asked if she might cali upon the new 
arrivals, he wrote her an anxious note in reply: 

Come every day to see Nannie, but don't expect to see the 
cherubic kittens or their ma just yet. The latter has caused 
me some anxiety; I feared she was feverish, and she was cer- 
tainly greatly excited. So I have enjoined the strictest seclusion, 
which is to last until the little ones are well on their way to 
sturdy health, and can be brought up stairs to see company. 

After providing a most luxurious bed for the future mother 
—the very kind of bed I should have chosen for myself— what 
does she do but select an old box with five straws in it, in the 
darkest corner of the celiar! 

If you have any sympathy which is going to waste, bestow 
it on the woebegone pa, who is literally heart-broken over the 
inexplicable disappearance of his idol— or is it that he sniffs 
kittens in the wind and would like to have a go at the tooth- 
some dainties? After the experience of the old box, cats' nature 
is somewhat of a problem. 

When the kittens are presentable, their fond mother will 
not be as proud to show them to you as will be 

Yours affectionately, 
H H F 

ODO 

Banquo, Banshee, Nero, "the grocer's cat," even an un- 
sung tom by the name of Cari, each had its place in Agnes 



AGRIPPINA 139 

Repplier's affections. And there were other cats as well: a 
little sleeping kitten made of clay, a seated cat modeled 
after some ancient royal favorite, the pictured tabby that 
played for ali time within its wooden frame upon the wall. 
But none of these could e ver measure up to Agrippina. "A 
one-cat woman, that's what I am," the essayist would say. 
And she ne ver tired of telling the story; it was both joy 
and sorrow to her: 

Once, long ago, a little grey cat sat on my desk while I wrote, 
swept her tail across my copy, or patted with friendly paw my 
pen as it travelled over the paper. Even now I put out my 
hand softly to caress the impalpable air, for her spirit stili 
lingers in the old accustomed spot. I see her sitting erect and 
motionless in the superb attitude of her Egyptian forefathers, 
her serious eyes heavy with thought, her lids drooping a little 
over the golden depths below. After a time they dose, and her 
pretty head nods drowsily; but, like a perverse child, she resists 
the impelling power, straightens herself, and flings a glance at 
me which says, "You see how wide awake I am." Then very, 
very slowly, sleep touches her with soft, persuasive finger. She 
sinks down, down; the small proud head is lowered; the gleam- 
ing eyes are shut; a half-articulate purr grows fainter and 
fainter until it melts imperceptibly into the soft and regular 
breathing which betrays her slumber . . . 

But that is not quite the end. Devotion brings the story 
to its dose: 

I stop my work and look at her, or rather I look at her ghost, 
the inspiration of this poor book, written to do her honour. 
It is finished now, and Agrippina sleeps. I lay it gently down 
before the shadowy presence. It is her password to Elysium. 
It is my offering to her, and hers to the Immortals, that they 
may give her place. She has waited for it seven years. Little 
grey phantom, haunt me no longer with reproachful eyes. I 
nave kept my word. I have done my best. And the book be- 
longs to you. 



140 AGNES REPPL1ER 

But did the "little grey phantom" recognize what lay be- 
hind so wistful a dedication? Perhaps she did. There was a 
certain lifelong friend who, in a moment of rashness, also 
claimed undying affection for her pet. "But she had a hus- 
band, and you can't be mad about a husband and a pussy 
cat, you know." Of that Agnes Repplier was well aware. 

Yes, Agrippina must have understood and thanked the 
gods-that-be for her good fortune. 



CHAPTER IX 

A Happy Half-Century 

1901-1909 

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOODOOOOOOOO 

Some half-dozen years or so before the publication of 
The Fireside Sphinx, Agnes Repplier and her brother and 
sister moved back into the "City." They had had enough of 
the benighted atmosphere of West Philadelphia, and now 
that their parents were long since gone and they themselves 
were managing quite adequately there was nothing to pre- 
vent such a return to "civilization." 

First carne an apartment on Spruce Street near Twelfth, 
and then a few years later, another at Nineteenth and Chest- 
nut streets. There were to be two more removes before 
the migratory essayist and her brother and sister would 
come to settle finally on Clinton Street just east of Tenth. 
It was in an apartment in this house, with its Victorian par- 
lor on the first floor and the bedrooms on the second, that 
Agnes Repplier found at last complete satisf action. It suited 
her, as she would say, "right down to the ground." Within 
a short distance of Wanamaker's store— the center of things 
for ali Philadelphians— within as easy reach of St. John's, 
it appeared to be ideal for her. And it was as living in the 
Clinton Street house that in later years Agnes Repplier was 

141 



142 AGNES REPPLIER 

remembered by her out-of-town visitors as well as by her 
Philadelphia friends. 

"Agnes Repplier? Oh, yes, she lives on Clinton Street, 
doesn't she? Fve seen her many times," was to become a 
commonplace with her both curiously indiflerent yet 
withal proud fellow citizens. Clinton Street, its ancient Co- 
lonial homes now broken imo apartments and in some in- 
stances housing students attendant at near-by Jefferson 
Medicai College, provided a congenial, genteel setting for 
the eminent lady of letters. 

And Miss Repplier's being there was not without its 
occasionai diversion for other residents of Clinton Street. 
It was reported in a Philadelphia paper that on one occa- 
sion the essayist complained to some collegiate neighbors 
of hers about their carelessly tossing rubbish into the back- 
yard. She wrote them a polite but insistent letter, request- 
ing them to clean up the ofTending trash and "kindly in the 
future not to be so neglectful." The students attended to 
the business with almost unheard-of promptness. Although 
the removal cost them flve dollars, they were indir! erent 
to the expense involved. They had sold the f amous author's 
autograph for twice the amount. 

ODO 

In 1899 Harrison Morris had accepted a position as ed- 
itor of Lippincott's Magazine, a position he was to hold for 
the following six years. And because Agnes Repplier had 
known him so long and so well, she frequently would make 
requests of him that she would never dream of asking of 
other more remote editors. 

Miss Repplier's friend and medicai adviser, White, it 



A HAPPY HALF-CENTURY 143 

seems, was not content merely to see his name appear now 
and again in technical journals. Not so shy about his writ- 
ing as his literary friend had been in the early days about 
hers, he would ofTer his work to her for criticism. A paper 
recounting his experiences at housekeeping one summer at 
Norfolk, England, which his friend found readable and 
practical but far too long she consented to revise, and wrote 
to Morris suggesting it for his magazine. "But," she made 
it plain, "if I give it my precious time, I want it to run some 
chance of publication." 

Harrison Morris was as good a friend to Agnes Repplier 
as she to the doctor: the paper was accepted, to be duly 
off ered to the public. The essayist wrote in gratitude to the 
kindly editor: "You know [Dr. White's] name counts for 
a great deal more than mine, and people vastly prefer to 
read things that are not written by professional authors." 
Though, she added, she had of late been pushed for time, 
"we ali have our moments of weakness, and my particular 
desire just now is to see this paper through." 

If it gave White any pleasure to think himself an author, 
and if she could help bolster his belief in himself along 
such lines, the least Agnes Repplier felt she could do was 
to offer him her services. After ali, he had performed the 
utmost for her when she had needed him the most. And 
more than that, he was her friend. 

© © © 

It was in 1902 that Agnes Repplier received her first out- 
standing honor, the degree of Doctor of Letters from the 
University of Pennsylvania. Horace Howard Furness de- 
livered the presentation address: 



144 AGNES REPPLIER 

We have invited to be here present, on this occasion, Agnes 
Repplier, because she has revived the art, well-nigh lost in 
these days, of the Essayist. Slightly to change the well-known 
words, there is no province of the Essayist that she has not 
touched, and there is nothing which she has touched that she 
has not adorned. Her wisdom is illuminated by her wit, and her 
wit is controlied by her wisdom. Under her clear and search- 
ing gaze ali blown pretence lies shriveled. To her, the by-ways 
of literature are as familiar as the high-ways, and into no nook 
or covert have her silvery feet strayed that they have not led 
us into "a purer ether, a diviner air" and revealed to us quick- 
ening springs and glittering fountains. Her Fireside Sphinx, 
with well sheathed claws, will play immortally, in the fields 
of Asphodel, with Lesbia's sparrow. She has told us the story 
of our own dear City, and into thousands of homes her voice 
brings learning and elevation, purity and refinement, "fair 
thoughts and happy hours." 

Therefore, we present her to the Provost that she may re- 
ceive from the University the Academic Degree of Doctor of 
Letters. 

There were to be many more honors added to this one. 
But none was to be more gratifying than this first received 
in the city of her birth and at the hands of her good and 
generous friend. 

o o o 

In the summer of 1902, Agnes Repplier again traveled 
abroad, choosing Cornelia Frothingham as her companion 
for the trip. The essayist had known Miss Frothingham for 
some years. She was sister-in-law to Charles Brinley, a 
prominent figure in Philadelphia intellectual life, the head 
of the Society for the Extension of University Teaching. 
The "University Extension," as the organization was gen- 
erally called, brought prominent speakers of the day to the 



A HAPPY HALF-CENTURY 145 

city somewhat after the fashion of the Contemporary Club. 
But with the Extension, the meetings were open to the 
general public, whereas the Contemporary Club gatherings 
were for members and occasionai friends only. 

For years Agnes Repplier and Cornelia Frothingham 
took dinner every other Sunday at the Brinley home on 
Spruce Street. These were not perhaps the brilliant, de- 
cidedly clever people the author ordinarily preferred, but, 
strangely, for that very reason she seemed particularly to 
enjoy their company. Apparently she found in the Brinley 
family a comfortable, sane, and gentle household that satis- 
fied her by its very normality. Summer after summer Miss 
Repplier visited Mr. Brinley and his wife and children in 
Litchfield, or Dorset, or Magnolia. And here again there 
was what appeared to be contradiction. Decidedly an urban 
person ali her life, the essayist took to the country exist- 
ence that her weeks spent with the Brinley family offered 
with as much real pleasure as on other occasions teeming 
city life alone could give her. 

Cornelia Frothingham carne from New England stock, 
a fact she never forgot. She considered herself always as 
alien to Philadelphia where, more by force of circumstance 
than by choice, she made her home. Indeed, in order to in- 
sure the perfect clarity of her position, she assumed some- 
thing of the role of recluse, living for the most part in ad- 
mirable seclusion and independence. Yet the retiring Cor- 
nelia Frothingham and the somewhat ubiquitous Agnes 
Repplier, as it turned out, made excellent traveling com- 
panions. Their divergent personalities never clashed, but 
proved rather each to enhance and complement the other. 

The trip with Cornelia Frothingham began leisurely: a 



146 AGNES REPPLIER 

month in Paris, twelve days at Tours, a month of Amboise 
"with the Chateau at our backs and the Loire at our feet," 
and a month at Vevey on the shores of Lake Leman.* Mary 
Repplier was in London attending a host of parties that fol- 
lowed in the wake of King Edward's coronation. Display- 
ing just the proper distortion of truth, the essayist wrote to 
Harrison Morris: "I am glad with my whole heart [Mary] 
is having such a good time, and gladder stili I am not doing 
that kind of thing. Pastoral pleasures for me!" A bit later 
on she again wrote her friend, enclosing in her letter a 
photograph of La petite ile a Clarens. "This is the house 
Miss Frothingham and I covet to madness," she declared. 
"We want to live here together"— though she could scarcely 
have meant that at ali. It is somewhat difficult to picture 
Agnes Repplier cooped up on a house-size island plumped 
in the middle of a lake, miles from any city of distinction. 
Later there carne a further note: 

Miss Frothingham . . . is striving to develop in me what she 
calls a civic conscience. I believe its finest fruit is to be the de- 
claring of my beggarly purchases at the Custom House when 
I go home; but in the meantime I am expected to revere the 
Pilgrim Fathers, to read Emerson and the newspapers, to dilate 
with patriotic emotions, and not to throw match stumps out 
of the Windows. Think of me with that halo of virtue round 
my head! 

Ordinarily Miss Repplier did little or no writing while 
on her trips. Travel constituted the keenest recreation for 
her, and she was usually far too busy sight-seeing to take 
time out for work. But occasionally, when a particularly 
good idea struck her and when she was in the proper mood, 
she would retire to some quiet spot and set to work. 

* This in spite of Agnes Repplier's avowed distaste for Switzerland. 



A HAPPY HALF-CENTURY 147 

From Siena she wrote to Harrison Morris: 

Would you like a paper on Tourists,— their peculiarities, their 
misdeeds and the animosity they bear one another, for Lippin- 
cott? I have just begun it, and it occurred to me that maybe 
you would like to have it. Heaven knows I don't lack experi- 
ence on the subject. I rather think it will run to 2500 words. I 
have not been able to get any work type-written since I left 
Paris, and won't be until I reach Rome; but I can make you a 
decent copy, though it is an awful nuisance. One scrambles 
along under many disadvantages in this beloved land. 

By the middle of November, Miss Frothingham and she 
had reached Florence. "Winter has come," she wrote 
Morris, "and the hills above Florence are white with snow. 
However, we are just returned from a two days' trip to 
Pistoja and Lucca— Greenland is sultry by comparison." 

And from Florence she mailed him the promised essay: 

I send you forthwith the paper on Tourists, and hope it won't 
greatly disappoint you. It would go better in an early Autumn 
than in a Summer number, for then readers freshly returned 
from touring would know whereof I speak. 

Miss F. wrote me a delightful account of Mr. H. C. at the 
Bucknell football game and of the figure he made racing up 
and down with Dr. White . . . And why should you or any- 
one suppose that I was going to make a figure of myself by 
climbing— on my knees— the "Spanish Steps," which are every 
whit as unregenerate as is Dr. White? You don't know much 
about penitential observances! 

O O O 

Late in 1904, Agnes Repplier published her sixth collec- 
tion, Qompromìses, fourteen papers in ali, ranging from 
"Marriage in Fiction" to "The Spinster," and from "The 
Gayety of Life" to "Allegra," a moving account of Byron's 



148 AGNES REPPLIER 

pathetically appealing little daughter. Compromises offered 
as well the paper on "The Tourist" that the essayist had 
published not long before in Lippincott's. 

As might be suspected, Compromises is replete with well- 
turned and telling comments. In "The Luxury of Conversa- 
tion" the essayist says: 

But conversation . . . does not depend upon one or two able 
talkers. It is not, and never has been, a question of stars, but 
of a good stock company. . . . 

Perhaps the saddest proof of intellectual inertia, of our fatt- 
ure to meet one another with ease and understanding, is the 
tendency to replace conversation by story-telling. It is no un- 
common thing to hear a man praised as a good talker, when 
he is really a good raconteur. 

"The Spinster," interesting particularly in view of the 
maiden state of its author, goes beyond books and literary 
lore in its contentions and significance. Too many people 
assume, the author points out 

that there are no interests outside of marriage; no emotions, 
ambitions, nor obligations unconnected with the rearing of 
children. We are invited to believe that the great world, filled 
to its brim with pleasures and pains, duties, diversions, and re- 
sponsibilities, cannot keep a woman going— even to thirty-fìve 
— without the incentive of maternity. Accustomed as we are to 
the expansive utterances of conjugal felicity, this seems a trine 
overbearing. . . . 

It is not an easy thing to be happy. It takes ali the brains, 
and ali the soul, and ali the goodness we possess. We may fail 
of our happiness, strive we e ver so bravely; but we are less 
likely to fail if we measure with judgment our chances and 
our capabilities. To glorify spinsterhood is as ridiculous as 
to decry it. Intelligent women marry or remain single, be- 
cause in married or in single life they see their way more 
clearly to content. 

© © © 



A HAPPY HALF-CENTURY 149 

Over the months from December 1904 to November 
1905, Miss Repplier offered the Atlantic a series of papers 
based on her experience at Eden Hall, the convent of her 
early school days. Harrison Morris congratulated her on the 
first, and she wrote him: 

I am so very glad that you and Mrs. Morris liked Marianus. 
I really want to write some more convent sketches; but three 
people . . . have told me that it was a strange thing for a 
good Catholic to do. As if any one who was not a Catholic 
could e ver know what the convent spirit was! 

And because she discovered "Marianus" to be well re- 
ceived, at least by ali readers save her three carping critics, 
Agnes Repplier continued the series, seven papers in ali. 

In December 1905 the collection was published under 
the title In Our Convent Days. "A charming human docu- 
menta ' the critic for the Catholic World called the book, 
and continued: 

It is impossible for us to renew our youth, but stili it is in the 
power of genius to make the days of childhood live again. Miss 
Repplier . . . has recalled the past years and presented them 
with such living power that, in ali the charm, the frankness, the 
mischievousness, and romance of childhood, they live again. 
. . . Miss Repplier, with praiseworthy humility, says: "Our 
successors to-day know more than we knew." We can but say, 
that if there are many pupils now in our convent schools who 
will attain to Miss Repplier's knowledge and power, the out- 
look for Catholic literature is promising indeed. 

And it was of this book, one of her most popular through 
forty years of popularity, that Agnes Repplier was able 
to write with pride and pleasure: 

The one book which I have written which has a Catholic back- 
ground—a book designed for my own people, and which I 



150 AGNES REPPLIER 

thought would be acceptable only to those who, having shared 
my experiences, would also share my pleasure in recalling them 
— has been read with perfect good humor by a secular public. 

© © © 

It was in the spring of 1906 that Mrs. Schuyler Neilson 
Warren of New York invited Agnes Repplier to lecture 
before the Philothea Society, a small group of Catholic 
women in that city. Mrs. Warren had been convent edu- 
cated and her school too had been under the direction of 
the Order of the Sacred Heart. For years she had been 
reading Miss Repplier's essays, first in the Catholic World 
and then in the Atlantic and other magazines, but it was 
not until the publication of In Our Convent Days that she 
had been really attracted to the author. Mrs. Warren's 
childhood experiences had been much like those of which 
the essayist had written. She was one for whom the book 
had been specifically designed. And she had not been out- 
raged by any breach of etiquette or decorum on the part of 
the writer. On the contrary she had felt that the essayist 
had indeed captured whole and beautiful the spirit and 
flavor of convent life. 

Agnes Repplier's lecture, "The Mission of Humor," de- 
lighted her audience that afternoon in New York. It was 
largely because of this lecture and as largely through the 
efforts of Mrs. Warren that she was introduced to the liter- 
ary life of New York. She was known, certainly, by her 
writing long before she appeared professionally before any 
audience there, but she had needed an introduction. And 
Mrs. Warren had provided that necessary introduction. 

What was perhaps even more important to Miss Repplier, 
out of this lecture to the Philothea Society, there grew up 



A HAPPY HALF-CENTURY 151 

a fimi and lasting friendship between the writer and her 
New York sponsor, a friendship that flourished in spite of 
differences of opinion on many'important issues. Mrs. War- 
ren was an ardent feminist, and Agnes Repplier cared not 
a whit for women's rights. Mrs. Warren fought f or a cause 
with a display of energy that the other found impossible 
to muster. And, later, after Miss Repplier had discovered 
an issue for which she could and did expend every ounce 
of her energy, she and Mrs. Warren found themselves for 
the most part on opposite sides of the fence. But, though 
they might have their differences, their friendship was 
based upon an unassailable foundation, the Catholic-con- 
vent background they both shared. 

Following the 1906 lecture, the essayist was invited to 
Mrs. Warren's summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts, 
where she delivered another talk before her hostess' friends. 
And it was there upon a later occasion that she met Edith 
Wharton. Mrs. Warren introduced the two to each other. 
"It is a very great pleasure to meet Mrs. Wharton," Agnes 
Repplier said in acknowledgment, for she f elt her the author 
of finished and important work. "The pleasure is entirely 
mine," Mrs. Wharton graciously responded. "There isn't a 
writer in the country who hasn't been trying to achieve 
the perfection of style of the distinguished Miss Repplier." 

o © o 

A Happy Half-Century, and Other Essays appeared in 
1908. The title essay begins: 

There are few of us who do not occasionally wish we had been 
born in other days, in days for which we have some secret 
affinity, and which shine for us with a mellow light in the 
deceitful pages of history . . . For myself, I confess that the 



152 AGNES REPPLIER 

last twenty-five years of the eighteenth century and the first 
twenty-fìve years of the nineteenth make up my chosen period, 
and that my motive for so choosing is contemptible. It was not 
a time distinguished— in England at least— for wit or wisdom, 
for public virtues or for private charm; but it was a time when 
literary reputations were so cheaply gained that nobody needed 
to despair of one . . . Think of being able to find a market 
for an interminable essay entitled "Against Inconsistency in 
Our Expectations"! 

Miss Burney, Mrs. Montagne, Hannah More; this was 
the day of the famous "Bluestockings," the day of the 
ardent English literary salon. And this was the day selected 
by Agnes Repplier, who was labeled by one of her literary 
friends "our best Bluestocking." 

"The Accursed Annual" describes a kind of gift book 
peculiar to the early years of the nineteenth century, a book 
so unreadable, the essayist contends, that the only thing that 
could be done with it was to give it away. "Our Great- 
Grandmother" tells of the innocent if useless occupations 
of young ladies of a bygone day: painting china, making 
"herbals" out of paper, weaving filigree baskets that would 
not hold anything, constructing Ionie temples out of Bristol 
board, an almost endless list. 

Amusing and entertaining as these papers are, presenting 
as they do an extraordinary array of odd pursuits out of 
Agnes Repplier 's "happy half -century," two other essays 
in the collection stand above ali the rest by virtue of their 
cleverness and curious lore. "The Novelist" oflers a delight- 
ful account of early nineteenth century novels, and senti- 
mental and delicate in the extreme they were. Having 
pointed to the languishing heroines of these stories, the 
author turns to the men in them: 



A HAPPY HALF-CENTURY 153 

It was Miss Jane Porter who successfully transferred to a 
conquering hero that exquisite sensibility of soul which had 
erstwhile belonged to the conquering heroine,— to the Emme- 
lines and Adelinas of fiction. Dipping her pen "in the tears of 
Poland," she conveyed the glittering drops to the eyes of 
"Thaddeus of Warsaw," whence they gush in rills, — like those 
of the Prisoner of Chillon's brother. Thaddeus is of such ex- 
alted virtue that strangers in London address him as "excellent 
young gentleman," and his friends speak of him as "incom- 
parable young man". . . . Never do hero and heroine ap- 
proach each other with such spasms of modesty as Thaddeus 
and Miss Beaufort. Their hearts expand with emotion, but their 
mutuai sense of propriety keeps them remote from ali vulgar 
understandings. In vain "Mary's rosy lips seemed to breathe 
balm while she spoke." In vain "her beautiful eyes shone with 
benevolence." The exile, standing proudly aloof, watches with 
bitter composure the attentions of more frivolous suitors. "His 
arms were folded, his hat pulled over his forehead; and his 
long dark eyelashes shading his downcast eyes imparted a 
dejection to his whole air, which wrapped her weeping heart 
round and round with regretful pangs." What with his lashes, 
and his hidden griefs, the majesty of his mournful moods, and 
the pleasing pensiveness of his lighter ones, Thaddeus so far 
eclipses his English rivals that they may be pardoned for wish- 
ing he had kept his charms in Poland . . . "Thaddeus of 
Warsaw" may be called the "Last of the Heroes," and take 
rank with the "Last of the Mohicans," the "Last of the Bar- 
ons," the "Last of the Cavaliers," and ali the finalities of fic- 
tion. With him died that noble race who expressed our great- 
grandmothers' artless ideals of perfection. 

In "When Lalla Rookh Was Young" Miss Repplier 
makes gentle fun of the days when the Orient fired the life 
and literature of England and Europe generally. Moore's 
Lalla Rookh had taken everyone by storni. The Orient 
blossomed on every side. To illustrate one manif estation out 
of many, the essayist ofTers from "an arid wilderness of 



154 AGNES REPPLIER 

Moorish love songs, and Persian love songs, and Circassian 
love songs, and Hindu love songs" an "Arabian love song, 
peerless amid its peers: 

'Thy hair is as black as the starless sky, 
And clasps thy neck as it loved its home; 

Yet it moves at the sound of thy faintest sigh, 
Like the snake that lies on the white sea-foam. 

'I love thee, Ibla. Thou art bright 

As the white snow on the hills afar; 
Thy face is sweet as the moon by night, 

And thine eye like the clear and rolling star. 

'But the snow is poor and withers soon, 
While thou art firm and rich in hope; 

And never (like thine) from the face of the moon 
Flamed the dark eye of the antelope.' " 

"The truth and accuracy of this last observation," the 
writer comments dryly, "should commend the poem to ali 
lovers of nature." 
The essay continues: 

In the winter of 1821, the Berlin court presented "Lalla Rookh" 
with such splendour, such wealth of detail, and such titled 
actors, that Moore's heart was melted and his head was turned 
(as any other heart would have been melted, and any other 
head would have been turned) by the reports thereof. A Grand 
Duchess of Russia took the part of Lalla Rookh; the Duke of 
Cumberland was Aurungzebe; and a beautiful young sister of 
Prince Radzivil enchanted ali beholders as the Peri. "Nothing 
else was talked about in Berlin" (it must have been a limited 
conversation) ; the King of Prussia had a set of engravings 
made of the noble actors in their costumes; and the Crown 
Prince sent word to Moore that he slept always with a copy 
of "Lalla Rookh" under his pillow, which was foolish, but 
flattering. 



A HAPPY HALF-CENTURY 155 

But A Happy Half-Century stood for more than merely 
a collection of essays the charm of which surpasses even 
their impressive learning and out-of-the-way information. 
The year that marked its publication, 1908, approximated 
the end also of Agnes Repplier's half-century. Agnes Rep- 
plier was well aware that there was a certain undeniable 
discrepancy in dates between the one which saw the dose 
of her half-century and that which witnessed the appear- 
ance of the collection of essays in its honor. But an acute 
awareness of the passing years made confession of the hor- 
rid fact ali the more distasteful, and her admission she 
cleverly concealed in the Preface to her volume: 

The half-century, whose more familiar aspects this little book 
is designed to illustrate, has spread its boundary lines. Noth- 
ing is so hard to deal with as a period. Nothing is so unman- 
ageable as a date. People will be born a few years too early; 
they will live a few years too long. Events happen out of time. 
The closely linked decades refuse to be separated, and my half- 
century, that I thought so compact, widened imperceptibly 
while I wrote. 

So much for confession and admission for any who might 
care to read between the lines. The essayist continued: 

I have fìlled my canvas with trivial things, with intimate de- 
tails, with what now seems the insigniflcant aspects of life. But 
the insigniflcant aspects of life concern us mightily while we 
live; and it is by their help that we understand the insigniflcant 
people who are sometimes reckoned of importance. A hundred 
years ago many men and women were reckoned of importance, 
at whose claims their successors today smile scornfully. Yet 
they and their work were woven into the tissue of things, into 
the warp and woof of social conditions, into the literary his- 
tory of England. An hour is not too precious to waste upon 
them, however feeble their pretensions. Perhaps some idle 
reader in the future will do as much for us. 



156 AGNES REPPLIER 

o o o 

Agnes Repplier's first half-century was marked in another 
way than by the publication of a collection of date-en- 
circled essays. It was just about this very time that, after 
twenty years of friendship, Constant interchange of notes 
and letters, and seeking and receiving advice and encour- 
agement, she and Harrison Morris decided he need no 
longer be "Mr. Morris" to her. In modest compromise, her 
letters to him bore for a time the greeting: "Dear Harrison 
Morris." But the final step was in view. And before very 
long "Harrison" it became. 

In celebration of the event his friend paid him enviable 
compliment. "Neither you nor I are models of discretion 
in speech," she wrote. "But the older I grow, and the longer 
I know you, the more gladly I turn to your candour and 
loyalty, and straight ways, and semi-brutal directness." 

A happy conclusion for a happy half-century. 



CHAPTER X 

The Corning of the War 

1910-1914 

DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 

From March 1910 until the follo wing November, Agnes 
Repplier and her friend Cornelia Frothingham were again 
in Europe. The two travelers landed at Antwerp in Bel- 
gium and spent a length of time in that city and at Bruges. 
Later they went to Brittany, on the Còte du Nord, and tried 
motoring through the pleasant countryside. But the cars 
went far too fast for them to see what they wanted to see 
even if the dust raised in the process had allowed a reason- 
able degree of visibility. It had been an experiment, and it 
had failed. 

Not long after her return to Philadelphia Miss Repplier 
was one day greatly surprised and pleased to receive a tele- 
gram from President John Cavanaugh of No tre Dame Uni- 
versity. It read: "For distinguished achievement in letters 
and a noble exemplification of Catholic womanhood, the 
University of Notre Dame bestows upon you the Laetare 
Medal, the highest honor within its gifts." 

Here was distinction indeed! It was curious that first 
recognition of such a nature had come from her native city, 
usually not given to express good pleasure, and that the 

157 



158 AGNES REPPLIER 

great Catholic university had waited some nine years to 
add its honors. But perhaps there were among her Roman 
Catholic readers certain ones who f elt that Agnes Repplier 
was too independent to be a "good" Catholic, although 
Father Burke, a former editor of the Catholic World, de- 
clared her to be "as narrow as a toothpick." 

Whatever may have stood behind the delay, that which 
prompted the presentation was clear enough. And it was 
gratifying, to say the least, to receive so high an honor. 

ODO 

Of ali the cities in the United States that Agnes Repplier 
visited, and her lecturing took her to a great many, few 
measured up for her to New York. She did not believe that 
"ali Philadelphians when they die go to New York." Indeed 
she was rather scornful of the idea. But it was undeniable 
that the larger city had an infmity of interest for her. What- 
ever her taste of the moment, New York was in a position 
to satisfy it, be it social, literary, or artistic. 

Mrs. Schuyler Warren headed the list of Miss Repplier's 
friends there, and she was a frequent visitor at the Warren 
home on Lexington Avenue. Rarely indeed did she pass 
through the city on her way to New England or Europe 
that she did not stop off for a short stay. Even the differ- 
ence of opinion between them on the matter of woman 
suffrage could not mitigate Mrs. Warren's undeniably 
generous hospitality. 

Then there was the theater. From her childhood when 
her father had on occasion taken her to see Booth at the old 
Walnut Street Theatre, she had loved the stage, And New 
York offered an abundance of plays. Agnes Repplier felt 



THE COMING OF THE WAR 159 

that, next to visiting a strange city f or the first time, pref er- 
ably one in Europe, there was no pleasure quite like that of 
waiting for the curtain to go up. 

As for her literary connections, they remained largely 
Bostonian even though most authors had drifted to New 
York where the "big money" was to be found. According 
to Agnes Repplier, inasmuch as the publishers were in New 
York, "where the publishers are, there also are the crows." 

But in general it was nothing more tangible than the 
extraordinary "go" of New York that attracted her, the 
uplift of spirit she felt when she had reached the city. Even 
the very air seemed open, especially in comparison with the 
shut-in atmosphere of Philadelphia. 

On occasion New York made for real excitement, as, 
for example, the time Agnes Repplier was drawn into a 
controversy with Jane Addams over the question of the 
child actor. Augustus Thomas, the playwright and pro- 
ducer, and Francis Wilson, of comic opera fame, banded 
themselves with her against the great Miss Addams there in 
open debate over the matter. Agnes Repplier was convinced 
that the stage for children was a good and safe pursuit. 
Child actors do not go "to the bad," she felt, because "they 
know ali about it." 

But over and beyond her convictions, Miss Repplier 
heartily disliked Jane Addams, and that was reason enough 
for taking up cudgels against her. The essayist declared she 
never cared for "good" people, only tolerant ones, and 
Miss Addams was, as everyone knew, as "good as gold." 
She was rather a power in the land, the author asserted, lay- 
ing down the law with incontrovertible authority and see- 
ing to it that everybody followed it. Although Agnes Rep- 



160 AGNES REPPLIER 

plier knew Jane Addams only slightly, she felt that the 
prominent social worker despised her, and she was rather 
pleased at being so singled out for attention. 

ODO 

Horace Howard Furness, one of Miss Repplier's most 
amiable literary friends, died on August 13, 1912. The es- 
sayist felt in his passing an irreparable loss, for he had been 
companion and critic, friend and f ellow writer. And above 
ali this he had loved cats with a love equaled only by her 
own. 

In an Atlantic paper of the following November, Agnes 
Repplier wrote of Dr. Furness: 

His rare powers of conversation, his marvelous memory, his 
information ... his unfailing humor, his beautiful vocabu- 
lary, rich yet precise, his swift light sentences, conveying im- 
portami conclusions, ali made him the most enjoyable of 
companions. . . . 

A man of exquisite charity, speaking evil of none; a man of 
indestructible courtesy, whose home was open to his friends, 
whose scant leisure was placed at their disposai, whose kind- 
ness enveloped them like sunshine; yet none the less a man 
whose reserves— unsuspected by many— were proof against ali; 
a past master of the art of hiding his soul, "addicted to silent 
pleasures, accessible to silent pains." 

Six weeks before his death, being then in perfect health, he 
wrote to me: "My grave yawns at my feet. I look down into 
it, and very snug and comfortable it seems." In the gallant ac- 
ceptance of life and death lies ali that gives worth to man. 

ODO 

Nineteen-twelve saw the publication of Amerio ans and 
Others, a collection of fourteen essays, flve of which were 



THE COMING OF THE WAR 161 

printed for the first time. The volume is particularly inter- 
esting for several reasons, not the least of which is that it 
contrasts so strikingly with the one that was to follow. 

In Amerio ans and Others, Agnes Repplier exhibited her 
usuai wit and f elicitous ingenuity of phrase. Here appeared 
for the first time "The Mission of Humor," a transcript of 
her popular lecture. Dealing in the main with the American 
brand of humor, it branches into other f orms— British, Latin, 
Teutonic— and concludes with a memorable note on the 
man "destitute of humor" who is "often to be respected, 
sometimes to be feared, and always— if possible— to be 
avoided." 

Miss Repplier enjoyed lecturing on "The Mission of Hu- 
mor" because it gave her opportunity to teli entertaining 
stories. And there are a number of excellent ones in the 
essay, one of the most amusing being that about an Amer- 
ican usher at one of Matthew Arnold's lectures who opened 
the door for a late-comer with the whispered warning: 
"Will you please make as little noise as you can, sir? The 
audience is asleep." 

"The Temptations of Ève," "The Customary Corre- 
spondent," "The Condescension of Borrowers," "The 
Grocer's Cat," and, best of ali perhaps, though distinctly 
Philadelphian in its point, "The Greatest of These Is 
Charity:" these are in Agnes Repplier's true vein, half- 
serious, half-mocking, eie ver, entertaining. But "The 
Nervous Strain" marks a new note of seriousness in the 
essayist's writings. "The Estranging Sea," with its some- 
what barbed handling of the British attitude toward any- 
thing beyond the Atlantic, and "The Chili of Enthusiasm," 
a sophisticated condemnation of those who allow them- 



162 AGNES REPPLIER 

seìves to become enthusiasts, carry with them a seemingly 
palpable contradiction of what in a few years' time was to 
be Agnes Repplier's own attitude. With the coming of the 
war, the writer was to forget ali about her criticism of 
ways British and quite overlook her condemnation of 
emotional ardor. 

© © © 

Nineteen-twelve ended with a plaintive appeal to Harri- 
son Morris: "You know everything and everybody," Agnes 
Repplier wrote him: "Please teli me what is the American 
Social Science Association, of which I have been asked to 
become a member. It has dues and gives medals. Shall I 
accept?" To which she added a postscript: "I see by look- 
ing again at the card the name of the thing is the National 
Institute of Social Sciences. What are social sciences?" 

;© © © 

On June 5, 1913, Agnes Repplier wrote to Mrs. Warren: 

I take my flight northward on the lóth carrying my convalesc- 
ing niece Mrs. Witmer with me.* The convalescing Cornelia 
left a week ago with her nurse. And may Heaven see us ali 
safe through the next three months! 

Never has any work of mine attracted half as mudi atten- 
tion as the paper on the Cost of Sentiment [Atlantic Monthly, 
May 1913]. I am stili deluged with letters concerning it. One 
from a big corporation lawyer, one from the president of the 
Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, saying that at a meeting of 
prominent men in New York, it had been referred to and 
praised by ali. Think of that, my lamb! I am trying hard to 
make the light minded young editor of the "Atlantic" [Ellery 
Sedgwick] recognize my true value. He only laughs (we are 

* Emma Repplier Witmer, daughter of George Repplier, Agnes Rep- 
plier's half brother. The wife of the psychologist Lightner Witmer, Mrs. 
Witmer owns a summer home at Chester, Nova Scotia. 



THE COMING OF THE WAR 163 

good friends) and says he has heard the article most cordially 
abused. 

"The Cost of Modem Sentiment" is a scathing denuncia- 
tion of the social and philanthropic feelings of the day. 
"The issues with which our modem sentiment chiefly con- 
cerns itself are the conditions of labor, the progress of 
women, the social evil, and— for the past two years— the 
overwhelming question of peace and war." The essayist 
found this sentiment often "a revolt from authority, which, 
to the sentimentalist, seems forever despotic; and this re- 
volt," she adds, "or rather this easy disregard of authority, 
is fatai to the noblest efforts of humanitarianism." 

Perhaps with such a reformer as her friend Mrs. Warren 
in mind, Agnes Repplier continued: 

The women of wealth and position who from time to time 
rling themselves with ardour into the cause of striking shirt- 
waist-makers and garment-makers are always well intentioned, 
but not always well advised. In so far as they uphold the strik- 
ers in what are often just and reasonable demands, they do good 
work; and the substantial aid they give is sweetened by the 
spirit in which it is given— the sense of fellowfeeling with their 
kind. But there is no doubt that one of the lessons taught at 
such times to our foreign-born population is that the laws of 
our country may be disregarded with impunity. 

Jane Addams, Chesterton, Annie Besant ali come in for 
their share of castigation in this essay which, because of 
its note of distinctly contemporary social consciousness is 
far removed from what Agnes Repplier's readers had come 
to expect from her. Little wonder railroad presidents and 
corporation lawyers should take it up and hail its author 
as a new Daniel come to judgment. Little wonder, too, 
that some of the followers of the Atlantic should "cordially 
abuse" it. 



164 AGNES REPPL1ER 

And little wonder that Mrs. Warren, that summer of 
1913, should suddenly shift the subject of her correspond- 
ence with her essayist friend. The staunch New York social 
reformer, in the face of her friend's diametrically opposed 
opinions, sensibly ignored her own social convictions and 
instead wrote in praise of the works of Francis Thompson. 
Possibly innocently enough she quoted Mrs. Meynell and 
others in supporr of her point of view. 

But Agnes Repplier was in a rebellious mood. She wrote 
a letter of reproach to Mrs. Warren. Later she regretted 
her haste, and said as much to her New York friend, though 
she could not back down on her outspoken beliefs: 

What an unsatisfactory friend I am, Alice darling! I ha te to 
make you boil and let off steam. I want you to be happy in my 
friendship. And yet I blunder sadly. Now listen! I like Francis 
Thompson's work quite as much as you do. The volume you 
sent me is full of beautiful things: "Shelley," "Paganism," and 
the very curious and tense paper on "Health and Holiness." 
I brought the book here [Chester, Nova Scoda] with me, 
and Cornelia Frothingham and I read it together . . . 

But Alice dear, you cannot frighten me away from my point 
of view by shaking Mr. Wyndham or Mrs. Meynell at me. I 
have not studied English prose for thirty years without know- 
ing whereof I speak. I have not loved and honored chastity 
of style, and the stern labour of the file, without learning to 
discriminate between what is perfect and what is imperfect, 
between what is good and what is best. On this point I trust 
myself. In the matter of verse, I am as ignorant as my neigh- 
bor. It is not my stamping ground. 

For the moment "The Cost of Modem Sentiment" and 
ali the favorable and unfavorable comment that followed 
in its wake were forgotten. For both Mrs. Warren and 
Agnes Repplier, a discussion of the value of Francis Thomp- 
son— even with some disagreement— was safer ground. 



THE CO MIN G OF THE WAR 165 

From French Village, Nova Scoria, where Miss Repplier 
had gone for a few weeks, she wrote to Mrs. Warren who 
had lately lamented her own being in Spain: 

It is droll we should both be in places we do not like, and 
writing disconsolate letters to each other. ... I thought when 
I was in Spain, that everybody had quite perfect manners— 
not better than the Romans who are also perfect, but certainly 
as good, so composed, serious and kind. Even when the young 
men in Seville flirted shamelessly with the children [Sarah and 
Agnes Boone], they were never offensive. They knew how 
to go about it . . . 

A week later there carne a note from Chester; in it the 
essayist complained to Mrs. Warren: 

I have had no letter from you in ten days, and it is a grievous 
gap. But the workings of the Nova Scotian mail are beyond ali 
reckoning. One letter of importance took thirteen days to 
travel from Philadelphia to French Village. One that I reg- 
istered never reached Boston at ali. It perished of its registry on 
the way. Even St. Anthony fails to carry the letters so fondly 
confided to him through such a perilous district. . . . 

Fm back in Chester, and more in love than ever with my 
niece's tranquil and beautiful abode. Five weeks and over in a 
country hotel have taught me the worth of my blessings. In 
another week I take the beastly journey south. It is cola and 
stormy on this strip of sea, and at night the little house rocks 
under the gale. Having never blown over in the past, we trust 
blindly for the future. . . . 

From Magnolia, the old argument over Francis Thomp- 
son plus the additional attraction of John Millington Synge, 
who seems to have worked his way into the discussion, was 
given its final dismissal: "So you think Mrs. Meynell a better 
judge of English prose than I am?" asks Agnes Repplier of 
her friend. "Well, we won't quarrel over that; nor over 



166 AGNES REPPLIER 

Mr. Synge's plays, which can hardly support the weight 
of disagreement; nor even, I hope," the essayist could not 
forebear to add, "over the sufTrage, which is a pretty seri- 
ous problem, and made none the less problematic by the 
coming of the Pankhurst to our shores. In fact she is pain- 
fully embarrassing the 'cause.' Her allies don't dare to turn 
her down, and don't think her any help, and are praying to 
be delivered from their friends." 

The matter thus settled, Agnes Repplier continued in a 
less caustic vein: 

Having spent the summer in archaic simplicity, I am winding 
it up with a very gay visit to the Brinleys, who have a house 
full of people, and many more coming in to lunch or dine. 
Also I am trying to see ali my friends in Gloucester, and to 
spend nights with some of them; and these things are made no 
easier by the fact that it has rained four days with unswerv- 
ing diligence and fervour; and bids fair, as far as I can see, to 
keep on the rest of the month. Before that time I shall be back 
in town and at work. 

Miss Repplier wrote Mrs. Warren about a week after 
the letter from Magnolia: 

It was simply beastly to pass through New York on my way 
home, and know how far away you were. I could never have 
believed it possible to miss anyone as much as I miss you when 
I get off my car and see in fancy your dear familiar figure 
standing by the gate. I wish you would come home instead 
of moving blithely from foreign town to town. 

I wound up my summer with a little heavenly visit to Caro- 
line Sinkler* at Eastern Point, Gloucester. She and Cecilia 
Beauxf have beautiful little houses dose to one another. Her 
house was full of guests ... I did have such a good time, 
Alice, so gay and so clever! Not one dull moment anywhere . . . 

© © o 

* Of Philadelphia, a friend of the essayist's. 

t The well-known artist, also a friend of the essayist's. 



THE CO MIN G OF THE WAR 167 

On January 4, 1914, Dr. S. Weir Mit cheli died. But the 
death of this second of Agnes Repplier's Philadelphia lit- 
erary friends was not the cause of sorrow such as Horace 
Furness' passing had brought. Mitchell had been a friend in 
every sense but never the companion the Shakespearean 
scholar had been. 

What may as well have lessened the sense of loss in the 
death of the doctor by its centering the focus with increas- 
ing intensity on other matters was the fact that this was 
the year 1914, not 1912. And an infinity of difference lay 
between the two. 

Not many years earlier Agnes Repplier's friend Cornelia 
Frothingham had tried to generate a sense of proper patriot- 
ism in the essayist. At the time at least her effort brought 
little result. Miss Repplier had tossed the crusade aside with 
a few clever remarks. A patriotic tourist was more a matter 
for laughter than a source of inspiration. She could be proud 
of her country, but pride did not necessarily mean a Con- 
stant display of emotional effusion. There was something 
evangelistic about a person given to an obvious show of love 
of country, something evangelistic that smacked of the 
common and vulgar. 

But years before Cornelia Frothingham, Agnes Repplier 
had felt it an exceedingly difficult business to give herself 
over wholeheartedly to some cause— any cause. That was 
why Mrs. Howe had loomed as so admirable— even if for- 
midable— a person. Agnes Repplier's sense of humor pre- 
vented her from taking herself with the seriousness neces- 
sary for devotion to a cause. It was impossible not to see 
oneself at times at least as just a trifle ridiculous. 

In no sense of the word could Miss Repplier have been 
called a feminist. She was not interested in women's rights. 



168 AGNES REPPLIER 

That had been largely her quarrel with Mrs. Warren. Such 
as the world is, she felt, men are responsible for it. Good 
or bad, it has been their doing. But more than that, it will be 
of their doing, she believed. If men are so generous to us, 
she would teli Mrs. Warren, as ever to give us a voice in the 
running of this world, it is only because they do not fear us 
very much. They know that they will hold the strings. 
"And personally," she would add, "I prefer to have some- 
one look after me than have to look after myself." 

It was through White that Agnes Repplier met the for- 
mer President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. 
She found him "blundering perhaps but as honest as the 
sun." He could have won a bird off a bough, she com- 
mented. And, of course, he was a great admirer of the 
French diplomat and critic Jusserand. That alone, as far 
as she was concerned, was recommendation enough. 

Theodore Roosevelt may not have approved entirely of 
the essayist. Once he said to her, "You're no good as a parti- 
san for you ne ver go the whole way." At the beginning at 
least she preferred to sit for the most part as comfortably 
as she could on the f enee. 

But Roosevelt knew that in Agnes Repplier he had found 
a person whom the public would read. She had a f ollowing, 
a following made up of people of taste and intellectual 
maturity. 

The situation was in no degree Machiavellian. Miss Rep- 
plier certainly knew what she was about. And she had 
never been one to do that which she did not want to do. 
From her earliest school days, she had acted mainly on her 
own impulse, not as the result of any compulsion brought 
to bear by some outsider. But perhaps in the present in- 



THE CO MIN G OF THE WAR 169 

stance she was somewhat flattered by the thought that she 
and her writing could be of assistance to this charming if 
blustering former President. 

That White not only added his consent but was most 
anxious that she comply with Roosevelt's suggestions made 
Agnes Repplier doubly willing. It was in the doctor's hands 
that she had trusted her lif e. Surely he would be as wise now 
as he had been then. Her politicai life, if such indeed it 
could be called, would be safe with him. 

But over and beyond Theodore Roosevelt and White, 
there was Agnes Irwin. In her biography of Miss Irwin, 
Agnes Repplier wrote: 



In November, 1914, Madame Vandervelde, the wife of Bel- 
gium's ablest statesman, carne to the United States to ask help 
for her ruined countrymen. She was warmly received (at least 
on the Atlantic Seaboard), and her appeal met with a generous 
response. The restraint she imposed upon herself, the absence 
of ali denunciation, which she felt would be out of place in a 
country theoretically neutral, was not lost upon her hearers. 
They may have found it difficult to cherish within their own 
breasts a negative and skeptical neutrality, but they were none 
the less grateful for her forbearance. Indeed, a plain statement 
of facts needed no comment. Miss Irwin's wholehearted inter- 
est in her work is evidenced by a letter written to a former 
pupil of whose sympathy she felt sure: 

"You are going to write an open letter for the Vandervelde 
meeting, are you not? If you would do it! But I know you 
will, and it is going to be a great help. I flnd that many persons 
who are willing and eager to aid know nothing about Madame 
Vandervelde, or her husband, or what she is trying to do. A 
few words from you would be very enlightening. But why am 
I writing this to you who know so exactly what to say and how 
to say it? Only because I care so much about the unhappy 
Belgians; I also care so much about your help in the matter. 



170 AGNES REPPLIER 

It is one of the bright spots in this darkened sky that you are 
so staunch an advocate for what must always seem to me the 
right side of things. Seem to me! I believe it isP 9 

A month after writing this agitated and distressful letter 
Miss Irwin died. In the interval she said to this same friend 
(and it sounded as though she had some premonition of her 
death): "You will always do what you can for the cause, 
won't you? I know it seems to you so little as to be hardly 
worth doing. But it is at least the raising of a voice, and some- 
one listens." 

Agnes Repplier was the "former pupil" to whom Miss 
Irwin had addressed herself on both occasions. 

"War is a rough trade," Miss Repplier had commented 
in Books and Men, more than twenty-five years before, 
u and if we choose to cali names, it is as easy any time to 
say 'butcher' as 'hero.' " Butcher, hero: it ali depended on 
the point of view and on in which camp one found oneself . 
If in after years Miss Repplier was to come to believe that 
"really and truly Helen wasn't worth it," in the year 1914 
the question was not of ultimate value but of immediate 
price. Roosevelt and the heroes had far more appeal for the 
essayist just then than did Wilson and, if scarcely the 
"butchers," something less than the heroes. 

© © © 

In an Atlantic paper entitled "The Repeal of Reticence," 
Agnes Repplier hit hard at a certain type of reformer. Her 
antagonism for the "sex educator" was so strong that it 
quite pushed her concern over the coming war from her 
consideration: 

There is nothing new about the Seven Deadly Sins. They are 
as old as humanity. There is nothing mysterious about them. 



THE CO MIN G OF THE WAR 171 

They are easier to understand than the Cardinal Virtues . . . 
Knowledge is the cry. Crude, undigested knowledge, without 
limit and without reserve. Give it to the girls, give it to the 
boys, give it to the children. No other force is taken into ac- 
count by the visionaries who— in defiance, or in ignorance, of 
history— believe that evil understood is evil conquered. ... * 

For the most part, the essay is singularly devoid of that 
mark of distinction usually associated with the author's 
writing: literary lore. Brieux and his Les Avaries, presented 
in this country as "Damaged Goods," is granted its "stern 
warning to the pleasure-loving world," and Stevenson is 
mentioned briefly. But these are exceptions here. This is a 
paper dealing with a contemporary problem. It does not 
grow out of the browsings of fìfty well-read years. It is 
sharp and brittle and very much to the point. But there is 
a certain undeniable harshness about it as well. It is as if its 
author were here rehearsing her talents so that when the 
game of poison darts that was to be played for keeps over 
the question of war should begin, she might not be caught 
inexperienced. 

"I send you the March [1914] 'Atlantic' with my last 
paper in it," Agnes Repplier wrote Mrs. Warren. "Not for 
young people to read." The paper was "The Repeal of Reti- 
cence." The essayist no doubt sincerely felt that Mrs. War- 
ren would be interested. But more than that, Miss Repplier 
took a delight in teasing her New York friend in the matter 
of reform. Sex education may not have been among Mrs. 
Warren's usuai interests, but "wayward girls" were not 
too far removed. 

Agnes Repplier informed Mrs. Warren: 

* A seeming contradiction of Agnes Repplier's point of view in the 
Jane Addams-stage child controversy. 



172 AGNES REPPLIER 

I wrote you last from Atlantic City, where I was scrambling 
through something akin to convalescence. If I did not get well, 
I at least gained enough strength to go to New York, lecture, 
go to New England, lecture, and wind up in Boston. . . . 
Boston is even more mad about prostitutes than Philadelphia 
and New York. She talks about little else, tells blood-curdling 
stories, which bear every evidence of ripe invention, and the 
Dedham Club at which I lectured had actually had a real live 
"white slave" (at least she claimed to be one, but she may 
have been only bragging) to address them last month. Now 
how can a respectable old lady like myself compete with such 
an attraction! I felt the tameness of virtue. . . . 

Mrs. Warren was amused by Agnes Repplier's fanciful 
exaggerations— and by another letter to her from the essay- 
ist that concluded: "What do you think of the Tlays and 
Players' Club'* asking me to act in a translation of Brieux's 
comedies. I said I could not act. They said that did not mat- 
ter. On my soul, I expect to be asked some day to dance on 
a tight rope for the benefit of the militants. ,, 

Little danger of Mrs. Warren's so urging her friend to 
perform. Besides, the two, while never losing sight of each 
other, nor allowing indeed their mutuai love and respect to 
diminish to any degree, were to go quite divergent ways 
over the question of Wilson and the war. And that question 
would permit of precious little delay. A very few months, 
and the Eastern Hemisphere— or much of it at least— would 
be irrevocably embroiled. 

* A Philadelphia amateur theatrical group. 



CHAPTER XI 

The War and After 

1914-1919 

oooooooooooooooooooooooo 

The spring and summer of 1914 found Agnes Repplier in 
Europe, this time accompanied by a Philadelphia friend of 
long standing, Christine Platt. The travelers were warned 
to be careful where they went, but although they had no 
real difficulty— and certainly were not afraid of what might 
happen to them— before long they decided to come home. 
Jaunting now in Europe, even though it might be accom- 
plished with little inconvenience, was scarcely the proper 
pursuit, they felt. Besides, as Miss Repplier said, William 
White was calling her, urging her return so that she might 
come to the assistance of those who were of the opinion 
that war in Europe is war in the Western Hemisphere as 
well. 

Once home, the writer set to work with fine fury. She 
and White collaborated on a pamphlet titled Ger?nany and 
Democracy, the Real Issue, the Vienjos of Tivo Average 
Americans, a Reply to Doctor Demburg. A year later Ger- 
many and Democracy was republished in England and was 
translated into French, German, and Dutch. 

173 



174 AGNES REPPL1ER 

For weeks the two worked over the composing of the 
pamphlet. White wrote very rapidiy whereas Agnes Rep- 
plier took her usuai infinite pains, working slowly and care- 
fully. The essayist found her collaborator a very exacting 
person— in matters of content at least. It seemed he ob- 
jected to everything she put down. But she had the satis- 
f action of knowing that she wrote better than he even 
though her repeatedly reminding him of the fact made 
absolutely no impression on him. 

As it turned out, about two thirds of Germany and 
Democracy belonged to White and the remaining one 
third to Agnes Repplier. Her friends found it an easy busi- 
ness to pick out her parts. They were clearly literary where- 
as his contributions were not. But the cause being what it 
was, Miss Repplier had no objections to being harnessed 
with her medicai friend. Some time later she wrote to Mrs. 
Warren of her association with White: "We are working 
very hard, he and I, and his inroads on my time would be 
frightful if I did not love it so." 

Germany and Democracy, as its full title states, is a 
reply to a Dr. Dernburg, who, in the Saturday Evening 
Post, had recently presented the views of Germany on the 
war. Agnes Repplier and White took up Dernburg's argu- 
ments point by point, attacking the German apologista 
veracity at every turn. The collaborators were particularly 
incensed over the plight of Belgium: 

Germany's campaign in Belgium . . . is an afTront to honor, 
a deathblow to integri ty, a denial of just rights. It is a triumph 
and exposition of brute force, of a life morally worthy of no 
man. It is a rejection of civilization, and of ali that civilization 
implies. It is an abrupt return to savage and elemental 
conditions. 



THE WAR AND AFTER 175 

They were not averse to hard-hitting sarcasm along the 
way: 

In good truth, ali German apologista, writing to enlist the 
sympathy of Americans, should be made to understand the 
value of an understatement. If they would claim a little less, 
we could believe a great deal more. If they did not whitewash 
so vigorously, we should not suspect so much dirt. 

Miss Repplier's hand is clearly seen in certain passages. 
"The Prussian soldier, as painted by Herr Albert (in a 
paper in the Atlantic Monthly) is what old-fashioned peo- 
ple used to cali 'too good for earth.' Shelley's apostrophe 
to Emilia Viviani, 'Seraph of Heaven! too gentle to be 
human/ is the only description which can be found to fit 
him." 

Germany and Democracy was not Agnes Repplier's 
only writing bent on wakening the United States to the 
cause of war, but it was one that most surely had grown out 
of Miss Irwin's urgent pleas. 

ODO 

Early in 1915, the essayist wrote to Mrs. Warren: "The 
death of Miss Sophy Irwin,* four weeks after the death of 
Miss Agnes, has plunged this city in gloom. I was so un- 
happy about Miss Agnes that there was no grief left 
for Miss Sophy; but it means the closing of a charming 
and brilliant house, the turning of a page in our social 
history. ..." 

Agnes Repplier's association with Agnes Irwin had lasted 
over more than forty years. Even though the start had not 
been particularly propitious, the dismissal from the school 

* Sister to Agnes Irwin. 



176 AGNES REPPLIER 

was to be graciously forgotten in view of the recalcitrant 
pupiTs later accomplishment. Miss Irwin could not joke 
about what had been so froward an affront to her discipli- 
nary methods. But at least she harbored no resentment. 

Boston, lecturing, Europe, and at present the war: in ali 
these Miss Irwin had guided her former pupil. Little won- 
der then that Agnes Repplier was to feel with the death of 
her mentor and guide that a very real source of certainty 
had gone out of her life. Her parents, Horace Howard Fur- 
ness, Mitchell, and now Miss Irwin and Miss Sophy. The 
old world was fast fading, and though the new was exciting 
enough, it could never expect to match the old for charm 
and real worth. 

Miss Irwin had lived long enough to see the Battle of the 
Marne, the decisive nature of which was not then wholly 
understood. She died before the sinking of the Lusitania had 
decreased the scanty stock of human hope and happiness. . . . 
Her life had never been easy, but it had been reasonably happy, 
reasonably triumphant, teeming with interest, and nobly led. 
Always she had accepted it as both gift and burden, imposing 
many responsibilities and bringing much delight. Always she 
had "reigned within herself," and her soul was free. 

Thus Agnes Repplier wrote some years later in her biog- 
raphy of Agnes Irwin. 

© © © 

Mrs. Warren was in Europe the summer of 1915. From 
Salem, Massachusetts, Agnes Repplier wrote her: 

Don't think that you will gain peace of mind by returning to 
the United States! Agnes Klots [nee Boone] is coming over in 
the autumn, filled with the same hope. But here we are torn 
with contentions, troubled beyond measure by the toying of 



THE WAR AND AFTER 177 

the Administration with grave issues, and infinitely distressed 
by the German successes. You may find some distraction in 
the suffrage; the surTragists are as interested in the Rev. Anna's 
yellow motor car as if there were no war in Europe; but you 
have been too long with the contending nations to take up 
small matters cheerfully. . . . 

And as Mrs. Warren was in Europe longing to return 
to the sanity of the United States, Agnes Repplier was at 
home, provoked beyond measure because she could not go 
abroad. "Next month [Dr. White] goes to France to ar- 
range the Philadelphia Ward of the American Ambulance 
Hospital/' she wrote Mrs. Warren. "I wish he would take 
me with him; but he says it wouldn't be proper, which is 
nonsense— à mon àge." 

© © © 

In 1916 the essayist published Counter-Currents, a col- 
lection of nine papers, ali of which had first appeared in the 
Atlantic over the preceding three years. Five of the essays 
deal with the war, and in only one of the nine is it not re- 
ferred to either directly or indirectly. Agnes Repplier had 
found her "cause." 

"It is strange to glance back upon a day when we had so 
little to trouble us that we could vex our souls over feudal- 
ism and fiction; when— in the absence of serious problems— 
we could raise pronunciation or spelling into a national 
issue," Agnes Repplier wrote with something like assumed 
nostalgia in her paper on "Americanism." She regretted 
the war; every right-thinking person did. But here was an 
opportunity to use a flail with far more determination than 
she had ever used it before. Here was an opportunity to be 
properly caustic. 



178 AGNES REPPLIER 

In January, 1915, the month Agnes Repplier first pub- 
lished "Christianity and War," the United States appeared 
to her to be "a nation smugly coment with its own safety, 
living its round of pleasures, giving freely of its superfluity, 
and growing rich with the vast increase of its industries and 
trade." "We are safe for a little while," she wrote a few 
months later in "Women and War." "Let us stand cringing 
by, and see injustice done." We were the "worms war- 
ranted not to turn." 

And Christianity was made to yield its seeming justifica- 
tion. If "it is a common saying that the New Testament 
affords no vindication of war, which is naturai enough, not 
being penned as a manual for nations," stili to Agnes Rep- 
plier "to speak loosely of war as unchristian is to ignore not 
only the Christian right, but the Christian duty, which 
rests with every nation and with every man to protect that 
of which nation and man are the lawful protectors." 

As for the feminists and their perennial question of suf- 
frage, Miss Repplier took delight in telling them that "the 
only agreeable thing to be recorded in connection with Eu- 
ropea sudden and disastrous war is the f act that people have 
stopped talking about women, and begun to talk about 
men." She gave women three precepts by which to live 
their war-directed lives: intelligence, "reasonable modesty," 
and self-sacrifice. As for the first, "they should have some 
accurate knowledge of what has happened, some clear 
understanding of the events they so glibly discuss." As for 
the second, the essayist believed a woman is terribly ham- 
pered by a conviction of her own goodness, and that she is 
no more sensitive than many men to the horrors of war. 
The third scarcely needed explanation. 



THE WAR AND AFTER 179 

In the most esteemed of his advisory poems, Mr. Longfellow 
recommends his readers to be "up and doing," and at the same 
time learn "to labour and to wait." Having, ali of us, imbibed 
these sentiments in their harmonious setting when we were at 
school, we have, ali of us, endeavored for many months to put 
such conflicting precepts into practice. 

Thus the essay on "Waiting" begins, as direct an attack 
on the policy of the Wilson administration as Agnes Rep- 
plier was to offer. 

Here and elsewhere Wilson received his share of invec- 
tive. Miss Repplier wrote in "Women and War": 

In the genial reign of Henry the Eighth, a docile Parliament 
passed, at the desire of the King, an u Act to Abolisti Diversity 
of Opinion." President Wilson, less despotic, has recommended 
something of the same order as a mental process, a soul-smoth- 
ering, harmony-preserving anodyne. It is called neutrality, 
and if it has failed to save us from shameful insults and re- 
peated wrongs, it has kept us fairly quiet under provocation. 

And certainly it was of Wilson that Miss Repplier was 
thinking when she wrote :"Only an American can under- 
stand the cumulative anger as affront is added to affront, 
and the slow lapse of time brings us neither redress nor re- 
demption." She had refused Roosevelt when he had asked 
her to write directly against the administration, true. But 
this, apparently, was to her completely nonpartisan, a mat- 
ter of larger issues than mere disagreement with a policy. 
Quite alone or aided and abetted by Roosevelt, White, and 
the ghost of Agnes Irwin— it made little difference in the 
final result— Agnes Repplier had worked herself up into a 
fury of indignation. 

Bryan was perhaps the most belabored of ali the essayist's 
antagonism-arousers, both publicly and privately. In a let- 



180 AGNES REPPLIER 

ter to Mrs. Warren, she wrote of an Authors' League din- 
ner in New York. "It was very amusing, and I met a lot of 
people; but the committee made the fatai mistake of invit- 
ing Air. Bryan, and he consumed so much time pouring out 
platitudes that I had to leave without hearing the best of the 
speaker s." "A pastmaster of infelicitous argument," she 
called him. And she declared that, until she had seen the 
man, she doubted the good Lord would make anyone so 
ugly. 

Although among the f orefront of interventionists before 
the United States was drawn imo the conflict, once the war 
was over, the older, more naturai isolationism was to settle 
down on Agnes Repplier as well as on many of her friends. 
Wilson and the League were to be quite as great anathema 
to her as Wilson and neutrality. In "Women and War" 
(May 1915), she had written: "There is everything to be 
hoped for in the sane and just settlement of national dis- 
putes by an international tribunal . . . " By 1919, she 
seems to have quite abandoned the idea. 

As for Counter-Currents, Miss Repplier fell only once 
in its pages into the same kind of bathos she so abhorred in 
the pacifìsts. "The Lusitania children, lying in pitiful rows 
to await identification in Queenstown, little meek and sod- 
den corpses buff eted out of comeliness by the waves ..." 
Meek and sodden corpses: surely this is as obvious an appeal 
to the emotions as any she railed against. Then as now, what 
was honest sentiment and what was not was much a matter 
of opinion. 

But the war-provoked essays in Counter-Currents are of 
less permanent value than the others in the volume, and 
there is enough here in the essayist's more usuai vein to prò- 



THE WAR AND AFTER 181 

vide delight along with penetrating observation as in her 
work before the war began. "The Repeal of Reticence" 
for one, attacking the unnecessary exploiting of sex prob- 
lems in literature and in public addresses, deals brilliantly 
with a problem even more pressing today than thirty years 
ago. And in "Popular Education" Agnes Repplier wields 
the flail in a fashion to make "educators" squirm and the 
"educated" cry, "Encore!" 

"This is so emphatically the children's age," the essay 
begins, "that a good many of us are beginning to thank 
God we were not born in it." Miss Repplier then tells of the 
First International Eugenics Congress held in London in 
1912 at which an Italian delegate stated that twenty-seven 
is "the best age for parentage." "But," the writer asks, "how 
bend ali the complicated conditions of life to meet an arbi- 
trary date; and how remain twenty-seven long enough to 
insure satisfactory results? The vast majority of babies," 
she concludes, "will ha ve to put up with being born when 
their time comes, and make the best of it." 

The education of my childhood was embryonic. The educa- 
tion of to-day is exhaustive. The fact the schoolchild of to-day 
does not seem to know any more than we knew in the dark 
ages, is a side issue with which I have no concern. But as I look 
back, I can now see plainly that the few things little girls 
learned were admirably adapted for one purpose— to make us 
parts of a whole, which whole was the family. I do not mean 
that there was any expression to this effect. "Training for ma- 
ternità" was not a phrase in vogue; and the short views of life, 
more common then than now, would have robbed it of its 
savour. "Training for citizenship" had, so far as we were con- 
cerned, no meaning whatsoever. A little girl was a little girl, 
not the future mother of the race, or the future saviour of the 
Republic. One thing at a time. 



182 AGNES REPPLIER 

"If Saint Augustine, who was punished when he was a 
little lad because he loved to play, could see how childish 
pastimes are dignified in the pedagogy of the twentieth 
century," the author comments, "he would no longer say 
that 'playing is the business of childhood.' He would know 
that it is the supremely important business, the crushing 
responsibility of the pedagogue. Nothing is too profound, 
nothing too subtle to be evolved from a game or a toy." 

"Popular Education," if not so literary as the majority 
of Agnes Repplier's prewar papers, is every bit as clever. 
It deals with a current theme, as does "The Repeal of Reti- 
cence," quite as up to date as the war essays. But because 
education is a perennial problem— which war, it is to be de- 
voutly hoped, is not— the essay rings almost as true thirty 
years after its publication as it did when first it appeared. 

ODO 

Whatever else it may have done, the European war pro- 
vided the Contemporary Club of Philadelphia with an infin- 
ity of topics for discussion. November 9, 1914, brought 
"Aspects of the European War at Close Range," and the 
following January "What Can America Do to Bring About 
Peace," a meeting at which Agnes Repplier herself was a 
speaker. 

The next Contemporary Club season was to start with a 
discussion of "A Year of War— What It Has Taught Us" 
with Norman Angeli and Dr. Kuno Francke heading the 
list of speakers. Harrison Morris was president of the club 
that year, and he wrote to Agnes Repplier asking her if she 
would take part in the debate with Angeli and Francke. It 



THE WAR AND AFTER 183 

would be great firn, he insisted, a real opportunity for her 
to express her beliefs. 

The essayist fumed over her friend's letter. She wrote in 
burning reply: 

I can't do it! Not for love or money! The war is not to me a 
matter for cheerful debate. It is an ever-present horror. There 
is no "great firn" to be extracted from it. 

I wouldn't listen to a flabby ass like Norman Angeli for a 
hundred dollars, and I wouldn't appear on the platform with 
Kuno Francke for a thousand. Do you suppose Dr. White 
would argue with Francke? He'd knock him down, which I 
can't do, and that would be ali the fun you'd get out of him. 

You see, Harrison, Germany is not only the enemy of Eu- 
rope, she is our enemy as well. She has injured us deeply, and 
offered no redress. Why should we invite her representatives 
to gabbie in our ears? 

Harrison Morris was understandably upset over the mat- 
ter. He was afraid that Agnes Repplier might have mis- 
understood him entirely, that perhaps she even wondered 
as to his sense of patriotism. After ali, he was president of 
the club, and it was his responsibility that Angeli and 
Francke were to be speakers. He sent his old friend a hasty 
note of explanation. 

But there was no need for him to f ear. Miss Repplier had 
"slept on" her letter of the day before and was already ex- 
periencing some qualms over its harshness. She offered apol- 
ogy in far calmer tones: 

Of course I understood that your "great fun" referred to the 
smashing of German arguments, and I never doubted where 
your sympathies lay. You are sensible to be able to meet Ger- 
mans, and to listen to them. I can't. Since the Lusitania was 
sunk, their presence on a platform insults me. The Contem- 



184 AGNES REPPLIER 

porary Club is a good athletic field; but this is not a sporting 
proposition. . . . Forgive my "flaming" letter. 

ODO 

Easter Sunday, 1916, Agnes Repplier wrote to Harrison 
Morris refusing his invitation to dinner. Her friend White 
was dying, and she could not even think of a dinner party 
in view of such a tragic extremity. 

It was curious that the doctor had come into her life to 
save it for her, and now he was slipping out though she felt 
she stili needed him. For the past four years out of fifteen 
or so of their friendship, he had become the force behind 
most of her writing and thinking. He had introduced her 
to Roosevelt, and he had helped her with her papers in be- 
half of intervention and the Allies. 

But White had been more than mere politicai adviser to 
her. He had been the happy companion of many an eve- 
ning of pleasure when he and his wife and a few others 
would join in nothing more out of the way than two or 
three hours of good conversation— "the most soothing of 
occupations," as Agnes Repplier had once called talking. 

This was a loss comparable, really, only to that when 
Miss Irwin had died. The deaths of her parents were closer 
sorrows, but the deaths of her wise and helpful friends went 
even deeper. And White's perhaps more subtly than Agnes 
Irwin's. Though she admired men as a class and preferred 
greatly their company to that of women, White had stood 
somehow apart from the others. She would miss him in 
many ways. 

© Qj© 

Louis Repplier was past flfty-seven years old. And for 
better than half of those years he had been Agnes Repplier's 



THE WAR AND AFTER 185 

charge. His schooling, necessarily slight because of his Con- 
stant poor health, had fitted him for little in the way of 
work. 

After the loss of the Repplier fortune, Louis Repplier 
had gone to work in his father's commission office with 
duties hardly more responsible than those of an office boy. 
He ran errands and kept simple books for the business. He 
did what he could, but his ability was limited. 

Since the death of their father, Louis Repplier had main- 
tained the merest pretense of a job at the Philadelphia Gen- 
eral Hospital. It kept him occupied, but it did not go very 
far toward supporting him. That fell to Agnes Repplier, 
who, it must be said, never begrudged him the expense in- 
volved. Louis had been bequeathed to her, as she would say, 
by her mother. He was her special obligation, her special 
care. She never thought of him as a burden. 

But sometimes her brother was an embarrassment to her. 
Once she was accused of not taking care of him. Louis, 
people said, looked like a beggar. She wrote to Harrison 
Morris in considerable concern. Never, she declared, had 
she been so prosperous as she was now. She received fìve 
to ten cents a word for her writing, and had more work 
than she could possibly handle. Certainly she was in a posi- 
tion to help her brother. "To dress him cleanly and de- 
cently would be a bagatelle," she wrote her good friend. 
"But he is unhappily unhinged in this regard. I can do 
nothing with him." 

© © © 

For almost six years the majority of Agnes Repplier 's 
writings had been motivated in one way or another by the 
war. Either she had been pointing out the— to her— plain 



186 AGNES REPPLIER 

duty of the United States, intervention, or she had been 
passing asides in other matters that put her beliefs just as 
plainly. "Waiting," "The Privilege of Being Murdered," 
"War and the Child," "The American Essay in War 
Time," to pick a few at random of the more obvious, stem 
directly from the war. Ali but the last were written and 
published before the United States entered. Bitter, caustic, 
even cruel, these papers were Agnes Repplier's contri- 
bution, her payment for friendship with Theodore Roose- 
velt, her ticket of admission in the anti-Wilsonian band 
wagon. Though for ali this, they were honest expressions 
of an honest if somewhat stridently determined opinion. 

But others of her essays, only vaguely referring to the 
war or hinting at it in the most indirect of ways, revealed 
ali the good humor and brilliance of expression of the happy 
papers before Germany turned open belligerent and 
Agnes Repplier became crusader in a cause. In "The Vir- 
tuous Victorian," for example, there is as deft a criticism 
of both Victorian literature and twentieth century art as 
one could possibly wish for: "A pre-Raphaelite Corsair 
languished as visibly as a pre-Raphaelite seraph. He could 
be bowled over by a worsted ball; but he was at least more 
vigorous and more ruddy than a cubist. One doubted his 
seared conscience and his thousand crimes; but not his 
ability to walk unassisted downstairs." 

Becky Sharp's "successore," writes Agnes Repplier, ai- 
ready weary of the psychologically probing clinical novel, 
"sin exhaustively, and with a lamentable lack of esprit" 

As for feminists, the essayist insists that "women . . . 
are only the equals of men," quoting in support of her con- 
tention a Cornish adage to the effect that "Lads are as good 
as wenches when they are washed." 



THE WAR AND AFTER 187 

Some of Miss Repplier's readers may have been disap- 
pointed when, at the bidding of her conscience and her 
friends White and Roosevelt, she had taken up cudgels in 
behalf of war. Some doubted that she would ever turn 
again to her former literary pursuits free from world-em- 
bracing convictions. Some went so far as to suspect that 
she ever could return to the old and delightful ways. But 
"The Virtuous Victorian," "Money," and even "Cruelty 
and Humor" might have dispelled their misgivings. The 
old learning and curiosities were stili there if, as they 
felt, largely misdirected and as a consequence somewhat 
obscured. 

ODO 

One evening in the year 1919, Agnes Repplier stood in 
the doorway of her home on Pine Street awaiting the ar- 
rivai of her cab.* It was a quiet Street, pervaded, as she 
might have put it, by the odor of decayed gentility. The 
war was over, and with its end had passed the great and 
burning cause. Somehow the very life seemed to have gone 
out of things. In its way, Pine Street, eminently respectable, 
almost unbearably restrained, rather symbolized the de- 
pressing cairn after the excitement of the storm. In a mo- 
ment the cab drew up and Agnes Repplier gave the driver 
an address. She was going to a dinner in honor of Joseph 
and Elizabeth Pennell. 

As Miss Repplier had known it would, the occasion 
oifered little more than a parade ground for Pennella sev- 
eral dieta. To make matters worse than usuai, he had chosen 
to sing the praises of Germany even though everyone else 
present was completely pro-British, or at least pro-Allies. 

*The Clinton Street apartment carne a few years later (1921). 



188 AGNES REPPLIER 

Pennell was warming to his subject. His assertions were 
coming thick and fast and with more and more exasperating 
assurance the more violently opposed he found himself to 
be. At last, as climax to his claims, he declared in ringing 
tones: "Mark my words! You'll ali live to see the day when 
the German Army and the British Army march arm in arm 
down Chestnut Street!" 

An impressive silence followed this astounding declara- 
tion. Then, leaning forward ever so slightly in her place, 
Agnes Repplier spoke up in a voice that was deadly cairn. 
"Oh, dear Mr. Pennell,'' she said slowly and distinctly, "do 
have them come down Pine Street. Nothing ever happens 
on Pine Street." 



CHAPTER XII 

Aftermath 

1919-1928 

OOOOODOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODOO 

Beyond doubt, one of Agnes Repplier's most amusing 
friends was A. Edward Newton, the Johnsonian collector 
and bibliomaniac. There was something almost quixotic 
about him, something very clever, and something quite 
naive as well. Endowed from the beginning with ali the 
tastes of a scholar, by the time he launched himself on lit- 
erary society Newton was widely read and professionally 
learned in the matter of booklore. He had begun humbly 
enough both as to income and library; but with the amass- 
ing of his fortune, he purchased judiciously so that before 
long his was one of the famous collections in the country. 

Agnes Repplier claimed to have "forged" Newton and 
the great Samuel Johnson. She had been a Johnsonian al- 
niost since childhood, and was well prepared to recommend 
the eminent eighteenth century scholar to his newest devo- 
tee. If there were some who felt that Newton became the 
Johnsonian he did mainly because he had the money to buy 
the books, there were others who felt as strongly that his 
love was genuine and sincere. 

Having read Miss Repplier's essays and having recog- 

189 



190 AGNES REPPL1ER 

nized in them the work not only of an able writer but of one 
delightfully f amiliar with most of the literary great of the 
past, Newton wrote asking if he might cali upon her. The 
essayist was pleased and amused by his visit, and the two 
became fast friends. Frequently she would travel out to 
"Oak Knoll" in Daylesford, not far from Philadelphia, for 
tea or a browsing in the famous library, which Newton 
generously put at her disposai. Although at times it seemed 
hard that he should have so many books and she so few, stili 
she was appreciative of the opportunity of making use of 
her friend's good fortune. 

© © © 

Nineteen-nineteen saw the publication of /. William 
White, Agnes Repplier's biography of her friend and coun- 
selor. The book was designed more as a tribute to the doc- 
tor than as a profìt-gaining enterprise, for its appeal and 
consequent sale was limited. But its author found deep satis- 
faction in doing the work and in seeing it reach a moder- 
ately large audience. She felt that by this book she had re- 
paid at least in part her great debt to the man. 

The following year Agnes Repplier brought out another 
volume of essays, Points of Friction. Unlike Counter-Cur- 
rents, this collection was evenly divided between papers of 
purpose designed for the immediate present, as "Living in 
History" and "The Strayed Prohibitionist," and papers of 
entertainment drawn from past and present. 

In "The Beloved Sinner," to choose one of the latter 
group, the author demonstrates ali her sharp wit and felic- 
ity of expression. It is, indeed, as clever an essay as any in 
the volume, perhaps almost as any she had written. It 
begins: 



AFTERMATH 191 

AH the world does not love a lover. It is a cultivated taste, 
alien to the naturai man, and unknown to childhood. But ali 
the world does love a sinner, either because he is convertible 
to a saint, or because a taste for lawbreakers is an inheritance 
from our first parents, who broke the one and only law im- 
posed upon them. 

" 'The criminal is a sick man, the prison is his hospital, 
and the judge who sentenced him is his physician,' " the 
essayist quotes an authority as having said. Her answer later 
in the paper is as deft in its expression as it is— or was— ac- 
curate in its claim: 

An interesting circumstance . . . is the reluctance of pro- 
fessional burglars to ply their craft on very cold and stormy 
nights. It would seem as though bad weather might be trusted 
to stand their friend; but the burglar, a luxury-loving person, 
dislikes being drenched or frozen as much as does his honest 
neighbor. Happily for his comfort and for his health, a high- 
speed motor now enables him to work on sunny days at noon. 
It is pleasant to reflect that the experts who robbed three Phila- 
delphia jewellers at an hour when the shops were full of cus- 
tomers, and the streets were full of pedestrians, ran no risk from 
exposure. They may have been sick men from the psycholo- 
gist's point of view, but they were as safe from bronchitis as 
they were from the Philadelphia polke. 

Agnes Repplier uses her flail to considerable advantage 
in this attack on the sentimentality with which criminals 
are handled by modem society. If her point of view is not 
exactly "an eye for an eye," at least she is of the opinion 
that the violator of the law merits some punishment suitable 
to the nature of his crime. 

"The Strayed Prohibitionist,' , though it has now lost its 
raison (Tètre, is too amusing to be overlooked. It begins: 

The image of the prohibition-bred American youth . . . 
straying through the wine-drenched and ale-drenched pages 
of English literature captivates the fancy. The classics, to be 



192 AGNES REPPLIER 

sure, are equally bibulous; but with the classics the Ameri- 
can youth has no concern. The advance guard of educators are 
busy clearing away the debris of Greek and Latin which has 
hitherto clogged his path. . . . As for the Bible, where corn 
and oil and wine, the three fruits of a bountiful harvest, are 
represented as of equal virtue, it will probably be needful to 
supply such texts with explanatory and apologetic footnotes. 

"The banishing of the classics, the careful editing of the 
Scriptures, and the comprehensive ignorance of f oreign lan- 
guages and letters which distinguishes the young American, 
leaves only the field of British and domestic literature to en- 
lighten or bewilder him," the writer continues. "Long- 
fellow," she comments later, u wrote a 'Drinking Song' to 
water, which achieved humor without aspiring to it, and 
Dr. Holmes wrote a teetotaller's adaptation of a drinking 
song, which aspired to humor without achieving it." 

These are but a sampling of the jibes with which "The 
Strayed Prohibitionist ,, is liberally dotted. But best of ali 
perhaps is the account of how the secret of the making of 
"heather ale" was lost: 

The story goes that, after the bloody victory of the Scots 
under Kenneth MacAlpine, in 860, only two Picts who knew 
the secret survived the general slaughter. Some say they were 
father and son, some say they were master and man. When 
they were offered their lives in exchange for the recipe, the 
older captive said he dared not reveal it while the younger 
lived, lest he be slain in revenge. So the Scots tossed the lad 
into the sea, and waited expectantly. Then the last of the Picts 
cried, "I only know!" and leaped into the ocean and was 
drowned. It is a brave tale. One wonders if a man would die 
to save the secret of making milktoast. 

Although in Points of Friction Agnes Repplier is fre- 
quently concerned over some problem of the day, and even 
though her beliefs and opinions may stili be "counter- 



AFTERMATH 193 

currents" in some instances, there is a considerable differ- 
ence between this volume of essays and the one that pre- 
ceded it. In the former collection, she was ahead of the 
majority, so to speak, pulling the lagging public after her. 
Here in this volume, though she may be at variance with 
the general reader, her position is somewhat in the rear 
guard. Here the tendency is to pulì back rather than to 
forge ahead. In Foints of Friction Agnes Repplier has be- 
gun to assume, or, better, reassume, the role of conservative. 
"Living in History," in addition to its comment on the 
war so recently concluded, is a plea for the older, grander 
kind of history. "The Beloved Sinner," as has been pointed 
out, is a damaging criticism of the ways of modem crimi- 
nology. "The Virtuous Victorian" offers a defense of Vic- 
torian reticence. And, most obvious of ali, "Consolations 
of the Conservative" ably presents the conservative point 
of view. In it Miss Repplier justifles what might seem to be 
her sudden shift in motivation. "Resistance," it is pointed 
out, "which is the function of conservatism, is essential to 
orderly advance. It is a force in the social and politicai, as 
well as in the naturai order." "This day shall be transient 
as the days which have preceded it," the essay concludes. 
Five years earlier and less, though the "day" no doubt was 
just as "transient," the author's attitude toward it and its 
potentialities demanded far more force and energy than 
now. Five years earlier and less there were few if any con- 
solations for the conservative. 

© © © 

Although Agnes Repplier was working as hard as ever 
through the years 1921, 1922, and 1923, she revealed in her 
letters to Harrison Morris a depression of spirit not charac- 



194 AGNES REPPLIER 

teristic of their writer. Plainly she was feeling a letdown 
f ollowing the dose of the war. There was a dullness to life 
now that made the usuai round of work, duties, even pleas- 
ures, more burdensome than ever before. 

She wrote Morris late in 1922: "I am lecturing north, and 
south, and east, and west . . . and am worn into a heap of 
tired bones." Laryngitis, she later informed her friend, 
would prevent her attending the January meeting of the 
Contemporary Club. And a few months later she refused 
an offer from the Penn Publishing Company f or a book on 
the social and literary aspects of the Victorian period be- 
cause she was "old and in ili health." 

There were occasionai lifts in the monotonous round, 
as when Harrison Morris invited her to a lecture to be given 
by Hamlin Garland at the Art Alliance and to dinner later. 
Miss Repplier wrote in reply: "Of course FU go with pleas- 
ure to hear Mr. Garland. ... I did not know that art was 
his bailiwick. ,, 

"The dinner," she added, "seems a bit vague. It is a far 
cry from 4:30 to dining time. Are you the host or is it a 
penny-in-the-slot dinner, or is it the kind of dinner at which 
guests are expected to speak out? The last possibility 
gives me pause. Otherwise, if I knew the hour, Fd like to 
attend." 

But the general effect was one of indifference plus a cer- 
tain slackening off. When Mrs. Warren's son from New 
York made a special trip to seek Agnes Repplier's support 
f or the League of Nations, he found her most uninterested. 
She who a few years ago in the heat of battle had been ali 
eager intervention, was now deaf to pleas of international 
settlement. Wilson, she felt, was an idealist but not a very 



AFTERMATH 195 

wise man. And she had learned her lesson so well at the 
hands of Theodore Roosevelt, White, and others, that she 
was incapable of changing her mind about him. The League 
was a meddling, muddled affair as she saw it. And since 
to her mind it obviously would do no good, why should 
she concern herself about it? Mr. Warren left for New 
York and home disappointed not only that his mother's 
friend should refuse her support in so vital a work as the 
establishing of the League of Nations, but also disturbed 
as well over what seemed to him a decided withdrawal 
from reality. It was as if Agnes Repplier had burned her- 
self out over the war, he felt. She seemed to him completely 
dispirited, indifferent, coldly cynical about regenerating 
the world. 

And the feeling her friends detected in Agnes Repplier's 
attitude toward the League carried over to each phase of 
her life in general. In her thank-you note to Harrison 
Morris for his gift and good wishes at Christmas, 1923, she 
wrote: "Personally, I ha ve lost my taste for New Years. 
They are uncommonly like the Old Years, and Fd like 
something different and better." 

At sixty-seven, Agnes Repplier was beginning to admit 
she was old— an admission she would rarely make twenty 
years later. 

ODO 

Early in 1924 Agnes Repplier published her thirteenth 
volume of essays. Under Dispute is made up of eleven 
papers ranging from "The Happiness of Writing an Auto- 
biography ,, to "Are Americans a Timid People," and from 
"The Preacher at Large" to "The Idolatrous Dog." 



196 AGNES REPPL1ER 

"The Divineness of Discontent" offers an interesting 
exposition of the degrees, variations, and sources of discon- 
tent. There is that species, the author points out, "which 
is more fervently optimistic than ali the cheerfulness the 
world can boast . . . the discontent of the passionate and 
unpractical reformer." And, later: "There is a discontent 
which is profoundly stimulating, and there is a discontent 
which is more wearisome than complacency. Both spring 
from a consciousness that the time is out of joint, and both 
have a modem background of nerves." 

The paper has its share of clever comment as when Emer- 
sone "invincible optimism" is mentioned, and the essayist 
remarks: "It was easier to be a transcendental philosopher, 
and much easier to cherish a noble and sweet coment, be- 
fore the laying of the Atlantic cable." And the paper evi- 
dences as well its author 's ability to make a deft expression: 
"It may be possible to construct a state in which men will 
be coment with their own lot, if they be reasonable, and 
with their neighbor's lot, if they be generous." 

In "The Master fui Puritan" Agnes Repplier turns her 
criticism on the Puritan pioneers of New England. She rec- 
ognized that "in our day it is generously conceded that the 
Puritans made admirable ancestors," but she is far from be- 
ing in accord with the concession. Although she is fully 
aware that "a vast deal of sympathy has been lavished upon 
the Puritan settlers because of the rigours of their religion, 
the austerity of their lives, their lack of intellectual stimu- 
lus, the comprehensive absence of anything like amuse- 
ment," she herself finds it difficult to be sympathetic. 

On two issues the essayist belabors the Puritan most 
heartily: religious intolerance and slavery. And, as always, 



AFTERMATH 197 

her comments are pointed with a sharpness of expression 
that would be difEcult to improve upon. In partial illustra- 
tion of the terrors that only a Puritan soul might experi- 
ence, Miss Repplier relates a story of "a woman of Boston, 
driven to desperation by the uncertainty of salvation," who 
"settled the point for herself by drowning her baby in a 
well, thus ensuring damnation, and freeing her mind of 
doubts." As for slavery, she tells of John Bacon of Barn- 
stable, who in his will bequeathed a slave woman, Dinah, 
to his wife: "If, at the death of my wife, Dinah be stili liv- 
ing, I desire my executors to sell her, and to use and im- 
prove the money for which she is sold in the purchase of 
Bibles, and distribute them equally among my said wife's 
and my grandchildren." To which the author adds the 
commenti "There are fashions in goodness and badness 
as in ali things else; but the selling of a worn-out woman 
for Bibles goes a step beyond Mrs. Stowe's most vivid 
imaginings." 

Eight years before the publication of Under Dispute, 
Agnes Repplier had written: "It is strange to glance back 
upon a day when we had so little to trouble us that we 
could vex our souls over feudalism and fiction ..." And 
yet in this present volume she does little more. "The 
Masterful Puritan" is not concerned with "a nationaì issue," 
but rather a sectional one. Neither is "The Divineness of 
Discontent." And in "They Had Their Day," a study of 
Victorian heroines, and "Strayed Sympathies," a severe 
criticism of contemporary methods of biography, the 
writer is plainly dealing with fiction and near-fiction. 
Under Dispute offers as conservative an Agnes Repplier 
as had Points of Friction. That there is no deep, underlying 



198 AGNES REPPL1ER 

"cause" behind the essays in this new volume mitigates not 
a whit their pungency. In "The Happiness of Writing 
an Autobiography," to give further illustration, she writes: 
"Mr. Theodore Dreiser's 'A Book About Myself sounds 
like nothing but a loud human purr." But it remains that 
here there is no cause, the result not only of the author's 
apparently having forgotten about such, but of the fact 
that essentially there is no need for a cause in her type of 
essay. 

© © © 

The following May, Agnes Repplier sailed with a friend 
for three months in France, Belgium, and England. "It 
will be the last time before I die," she wrote to Harrison 
Morris. 

And a few months later there carne another letter to him 
from Bruges: 

We are lingering in Bruges, a city I have always loved and 
of which I never have enough. Strange to say, I was told here 
of the one good deed I ever heard accredited to the accursed 
Germans. When they occupied the town, they had ali the 
dogs killed. To appreciate this, one must live in Bruges, which 
has more dogs than any city in Christendom. Ali night long 
they bark, bay, howl, and occasionally squeal like a pig. I 
never thought Fd live to praise a German act! 

This trip was not to be the essayist's last, for two years 
later she received word of her appointment to a commis- 
sion for the Ibero-American International Exposition to 
be held in Se ville in 1929. Although she could never de- 
cide how it was that she, of ali persons, had been chosen 
to the position, the appointment had been made by Pres- 
ident Coolidge. 









AFTERMATH 199 

"I wish I could feel I would ever be of any earthly use 
as a commissioner in Spain or elsewhere," she wrote Mor- 
ris in reply to his letter of congratulation following her 
appointment. But when the time carne, although she may 
stili have doubted her usefulness to the commission, Agnes 
Repplier never regretted the unexpected trip. As it turned 
out, the Spanish Exposition was a considerable high light 
in the years between the World War and her eventual 
retirement from an active literary life. 

o o o 

Agnes Repplier's first honorary degree had come from 
the University of Pennsylvania in 1902. Nine years later 
Notre Dame had offered her the Laetare Medal. And now 
in rapid succession two more academic citations were to 
be extended to her. On June 17, 1925, the essayist received 
the degree of Doctor of Laws from Yale University, and 
two years later, on June 2, 1927, a third degree, this from 
Columbia University. 

The second woman to be recognized by Yale with an 
honorary degree, Miss Repplier was understandably proud 
of the distinction. With characteristic succinctness she 
wrote to Harrison Morris: "I was puffed up with pride," 
then added modestly, "But have returned to my normal 
condition." 

Two more major honors were to be added to Agnes 
Repplier's list in the following years: one from Princeton 
University and one from the National Institute of Arts 
and Letters. And ali of them were a Constant source of 
wonder to the essayist who, as she would say, had "carved 
her niche out of Philadelphia." 

© © © 



200 AGNES REPPLIER 

For ali his somewhat blatant absurdities, Newton was a 
good friend. And to Miss Repplier, his eccentricities and 
little vanities only made his pleasantness and generosity the 
more agreeable. Let Harrison Morris vent his scorn on the 
"upstart" literary figure. Ellery Sedgwick, for one, thought 
him immensely clever. And Agnes Repplier was inclined 
here to side against her old friend and with the editor of 
the Atlantic. 

When she had received and read her copy of Newton's 
newest volume, This Book-Collecting Game, she was grat- 
ified to see herself in its pages. Newton is pointing out the 
foolishness of American collectors who pass over the best 
of native writers to grab at foreign firsts— generally 
English. 

Take Agnes Repplier, for example. For the price of half a 
theatre ticket one can buy a volume of her essays, compounded 
of wit, wisdom, humor, irony, and exquisite learning, the like 
of which one would look for in vain in England to-day. The 
reader will not wish to laugh loud, certainly not, but a per- 
sistent chuckle should not displease him, and Miss Repplier's 
best volume, A Happy Half-Century, will certainly produce 
it. 

"I was present once," Newton continues, "when she was 
introduced by a man, at a Blue-Stocking Club, as America's 
most distinguished f emale essayist. I f elt that her introducer 
was in for his bad quarter of an hour, and I was not 
mistaken ..." 

Agnes Repplier never begged any gender treatment for 
being a woman. Certainly she had never stood on her sex; 
that attitude she had learned from Miss Irwin who never 
cared whether a person was, as she would say, u male, fé- 



AFTERMATH 201 

male, or neuter" as long as that person was of interest and 
worth in Miss Irwin's eyes. And on this particular occasion 
of which Newton had written, the introducer had been so 
very patronizing, Miss Repplier had been unable to resist 
the temptation to set him straight in the matter. From her 
reading she had seen that throughout the years there had 
always been a great distinction between writers and female 
writers, and she was determined to avoid classification 
under the second head. Sex, she insisted, had had abso- 
lutely nothing to do either with her writing on the one 
hand or— at least she devoutly hoped— her reputation on 
the other. 

But, having paid his compliment, having told his little 
story, Newton required his fee. "Candor compels me," 
he concluded his account of Agnes Repplier in This Book- 
Collecting Game, "to say that the lady has one grave 
fault: 'first editions' leave her cold, very cold. Some people 
are like that." 

And on that score Agnes Repplier had nothing to offer. 
She enjoyed Newton's little joke, but she ventured neither 
apology nor excuse. She was perfectly willing to leave it 
with "some people are like that" for the time being. 

o o © 

Late in December 1928, Miss Repplier wrote to Harri- 
son Morris about a paper of hers in the Yale Review "writ- 
ten with my heart's blood, which," she added, "shows the 
severance the gods have ruled between you and me." 

The paper was "Town and Suburb" in which the em- 
phatically urban Agnes Repplier carne out strongly against 
suburbanites— traitors to the city— motor cars, and kindred 



202 AGNES REPPLIER 

disrupting entities. "The present quarrel . . . is between 
the town and suburb," she wrote, "that midway habitation 
which fringes every American city, and which is impos- 
ing or squalid according to the incomes of suburbanites." 
And, she insisted, "it is the all-prevailing motor which stands 
responsible for the vast increase of suburban life in the 
United States ..." 

The essayist, like many writers of the eighteenth cen- 
tury whom she so miich admired, had always been a city 
person. Even the evils, that she was perfectly willing to 
admit, could not make her change her position. The coun- 
try, certainly the suburb, had its manifold evils as well. 
Santayana knew what he was about when— and Agnes 
Repplier quotes him— he wrote: "I prize civilization, being 
bred in towns, and liking to hear and see what new things 
people are up to." 

Unfortunately, not ali of Miss Repplier's friends shared 
her beliefs. And not ali were, as a consequence, city dwel- 
lers. Horace Furness had lived far enough away, and New- 
ton was little nearer. It would have been unseemly to have 
pointed the finger of scorn at Furness: he had been too fine 
and noble a friend. But Newton? "If Dickens stili has read- 
ers as well as buyers ..." And she might have added 
"suburban buyers," though perhaps she hesitated at being 
quite so blunt. 

Furness, Newton, even Harrison Morris was not beyond 
reproach in the matter of town and suburb living. True, 
his home was in the city; but it was so far toward being 
suburban that it might as well have been beyond the urban 
limits. It took Agnes Repplier hours to make the trip from 
her home, comfortably tucked away in the very heart of 



AFTERMATH 203 

the city, out to his palatial place, just this side of the 
"fringe." 

Once she had written him: "It is no use loving people 
who live in the country. I intend to transfer ali my aff ection 
to town dwellers, who are an affectionate race, preferring 
their friends to grass and vegetables." And again: "Don't 
you think that some day you will give up living in the heart 
of nature, and draw a bit closer to the people who love 
you? I loathe those estranging acres." 

But Harrison Morris remained as blithely unaware of 
Agnes Repplier's cajolings as did Newton. Only in the case 
of Morris, with the passing of the years the city grew out 
to him; the "estranging acres" were built upon; and the 
charge of suburbanite could no longer be made. 






CHAPTER XIII 

The Eighth Decade 

1929 and After 

ODOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDOOO 

The winter of 1929 was a busy one for Agnes Repplier. 
That was the year she published the first of a series of biog- 
raphies, and it was the year of the Ibero-American Interna- 
tional Exposition in Seville. 

Some time before, a New York publishing flrm had asked 
her to write a biography of Pére Marquette, and although 
she had refused another New York concern their request 
for a book also, the biography held special appeal for her. 
Besides, the other request had been for a memoir, and Miss 
Repplier was unwilling to make use of her friends by writ- 
ing of them. 

The biography of Pére Marquette, the French Jesuit 
missionary and explorer who had accompanied Joliet down 
the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers and up the Illinois in 
1673, proved an arduous task. Most of the "spade work" 
had to be done by the writer herself, although in this she 
was aided by Father McShain, a Jesuit priest, to whom in 
gratitude she dedicated the finished work. 

The reviews of Fere Marquette praised the essayist, who 
in this volume had tried her hand a second time at "full 

204 



THE EIGHTH DECADE 205 

length" biography. One critic called it "history written by 
an artist," and continued, "Miss Repplier steers a happy 
course between the ponderous footnote school of biog- 
raphy and the clever but shallow group of modem icon- 
oclasts." Another, in an article headed "Miss Repplier Tri- 
umphs," wrote: "The Catholic book-shelf, which holds 
Dryden's Saint Francis Xavier, Francis Thompson's Saint 
Ignatius of Loyola, and Chesterton's study of Saint Fran- 
cis of Assisi, can now receive Agnes Repplier's Pére Mar- 
quetteP And a third, in what was perhaps the most gratify- 
ing notice of ali, declared: 

Everything that discriminating mankind most cherishes in its 
best reading is tx> be found in this extraordinary book— a great 
story, greatly told: great human characters, moving and suf- 
f ering; great deeds for great ends; great perils bravely with- 
stood; great difficulties vanquished. . . . If from the endless 
old records artists like Agnes Repplier can bring stories of fact 
as great and inevitable as this, what is fiction but a primitive 
vanity and the making of it a lost motion? 

As he had done on so many previous occasions, Harri- 
son Morris asked for a copy of the biography to round out 
the "Repplier Collection" in his private library. The essay- 
ist answered his request: "I should like to send you 'Pére 
Marquette' (it is my only work which has not gone to you 
in the long years of our friendship) ; but it is essentially a 
'rum, Romanism and rebellion' book, and, as such, can have 
no place upon your godly shelves. 

"I am sailing February tenth," she added, "on the Mar- 
ques de Comellas, Royal Spanish Mail Line, for Seville, 
a city of rum and Romanism, and perhaps of rebellion, too. 
I am glad to go, but very sad at leaving, and I have a lost 
and lonely feeling in my heart." 



206 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Miss Repplier was in her middle seventies, and the 
thought of a trip abroad, particularly one hearing sudi 
responsibilities as this one, was somewhat unnerving. It 
had never occurred to her in the past that one day she 
would e ver feel like refusing a journey to Europe. Forty 
years earlier such had seemed a reasonably ridiculous pos- 
sibility. But she was tired, and more than anything else, she 
wanted to be let alone. 

ODO 

Thomas E. Campbell, former governor of Arizona, had 
been appointed by President Coolidge as commissioner 
general. A former Wyoming judge, a San Francisco pub- 
lisher, and two women in addition to Agnes Repplier com- 
prised the committee for the Ibero-American Exposition. 

Miss Repplier's main duties at first were to arrange a 
library of standard American works that had been con- 
tributed by various bookstores in the United States. As 
it turned out, they filled three cases, and the arranging of 
them covered three days. After that, the author's time was 
taken up largely with receiving distinguished visitors, at- 
tending bull fights, and witnessing the unveiling of Mrs. 
Harry Payne Whitney's memorial statue to the discoverer 
of America. The distinguished visitors Agnes Repplier 
found both interesting and amusing. The bull fights, which 
she attended in the company of a Spanish lady whose idea 
of entertainment consisted mainly of copious amounts of 
indigestible food, appeared to her as indecent if grand 
shows. And Mrs. Whitney's statue turned out to be "a 
trifle bewildering, looking more like an old woman than 
the great adventurer." But, Miss Repplier was some years 



THE ElGHTH DECADE 207 

later to comment with a marked lack of conviction, "we 
were told that it was meant to be glimpsed by mariners far 
out at sea, and that to them it was noble and imposing." 
To her on land and dose by, it was decidedly not. 

The King of Spain was the most interesting of the 
visitors and Queen Marie of Rumania the most amusing— 
though she was scarcely aware of that. The essayist re- 
corded later: 

She sent word that she was travelling privately, and wished 
no attention to be paid her. The commissioner general, who did 
not know the lady, and whose duties had grown very onerous, 
was delighted to take her at her word. He provided some 
handsome flowers ... a tastefully draped Roumanian flag 
. . . summoned his weary but faithful followers, and awaited 
the royal visitor. She arrived with a longer line of motors than 
we had yet seen, made a stately entrance into our building, 
and evaded looking at the exhibits. The commissioner, how- 
ever, succeeded in getting her shut up in the cinema theatre, 
and we sank into our seats, hoping for a half-hour's respite. 
We did not get it. In twenty minutes the queen had seen as 
much as she could bear, and made a break for the door, fol- 
lowed joyously by her ladies. As she emerged into the daz- 
zling sunlight, she was received in respectful silence by a 
large circle of our employees, and a much larger circle out- 
side— the crowd which gathers in Spain on the smallest pos- 
sible provocation. The royal photographer was waiting to 
chronicle every move. In our front row stood the commis- 
sioner general's chaufFeur, wearing his new khaki uniform. He 
was a young Cuban of much skill, but so ill-mannered that 
petitions for his dismissal were of daily occurrence. The queen 
caught sight of the khaki, drew a swift but erroneous conclu- 
sion, walked nimbly across the open space, and shook hands 
cordially with the smiling young man while the photographer 
recorded her urbanity. Then she and her ladies stepped into 
their motors and disappeared from our sight. 

The Feria, the Romero, and most of ali, Holy Week in 



208 AGNES REPPLIER 

Seville were ali well worth the trouble and anxiety the ex- 
position caused as far as Agnes Repplier was concerned. 
From her early days in the convent, Spain had been dear 
to her heart. Time and again during her stay in Seville she 
recalled the smart that had stung her when, during the 
course of one of the games she and her little friends had 
played at Eden Hall, she had been required to forfeit Cas- 
tile in place of Tuscany. "Loveliest of cities" she called 
Seville, and she had defied King Alfonso to make her 
change her mind in favor of Madrid. 

Seventy-five or no, Miss Repplier found the exposition 
an unqualifled success. More months than she had ever 
spent in Spain before had come to her because she had 
been thought capable of arranging three cases of books— 
and months with salary, she was pleased to remark to her 
friends, in an effort to impress them with the commercial 
value of a bookish reputation. 

© © © 

In the course of the next four years, Agnes Repplier 
published as many books, a not inconsiderable output for 
anyone, let alone one of her years. Times and Tendencies, 
a collection of twelve essays, combines papers after the 
fashion of her older, more characteristic work as well as 
the war-provoked, social-conscious writing that had first 
intruded itself largely as a result of Miss Irwin's deathbed 
pleas to her. 

"Peace and the Pacifist," an essay belonging to the lat- 
ter group, is almost as harsh as many of the papers written 
immediately before and during the war. 



THE EIGHTH DECADE 209 

Now that the world is at peacc (excepting only China, and 
India, and Afghanistan, and possibly a South American Re- 
public or two that cannot be betted on with security, and 
some strips of country policed by American marines whose 
activities are not officially recognized as fighting)— now, I 
repeat, that the rest of the world is at peace, and ardently de- 
sires to remain so, it is time that paciflsts reduced their senti- 
mentalities to order. 

Thus the essay begins. Paciflsm has no place in the world, 
the essayist contends, because "nothing can make men and 
women who lived as adults through the World War con- 
sent to witness another." Of that she is very sure. And she 
is equally as certain that ali paciflsts are misguided as she 
is that the League of Nations, the World Court, and the 
Kellogg Pact are unnecessary. 

"Peace and the Pacifist" is redeemed, frowever, by its 
author's cleverness which cannot be suppressed no matter 
how irked she may be. (Indeed on occasion it would seem 
that the more annoyed Agnes Repplier is, the sharper is 
her expression of annoyance.) She writes: 

If patriotism becomes an emotion too expansively benevolent 
to make men willing to live and die for something concrete 
like a king or a country we shall have nothing left to fall back 
upon but sexual love, which is a strong individuai urge, but 
lacks breadth and scope of purpose. It burned Troy; but it 
did not build Rome, or secure the Magna Charta, or frame 
the Constitution of the United States. 

"Cure-Alls" presents an examination of panaceas rang- 
ing ali the way from pills, through "colour psychology" 
and Dr. Eliot's famous five-foot shelf, to the Eighteenth 
Amendment. "The American Credo" offers the conten- 
tion— and none too gently— that in America "the creed 
is education, the tempie is the school house, the conviction 



210 AGNES REPPLIER 

is the healing power of knowledge," and that "our passion- 
ate desire, not so much to acquire education as to bestow 
it, is the most animated of American traits." These and 
several other essays in the collection bear little more re- 
semblance than the deftness of expression and the delight 
of incisive wit to Agnes Repplier's earlier work. And in 
these essays the wit frequently is barbed almost beyond 
the limits of "fair play." 

But in "The Pleasures of Possession" the essayist is her 
usuai self. This is a charming essay dealing with the joy 
one has in owning anything, a joy that "lies in showing 
these things to friends who are experiencing no immediate 
urge to look at them." In it are related many delightful ac- 
counts of collectors and their collections, but none more 
delightful than* this: 

I was asked once to see a collection of silhouettes, and found 
that there were seven thousand of them. It was a marvelous 
collection. Many were very beautiful, many were very valua- 
ble, some had historical signiflcance. But there were seven 
thousand. Now seven good silhouettes hung on a wall properly 
toned for their reception are a gracious sight; seventeen are 
not too many for enjoyment; but seven thousand under one 
roof challenged endurance. Their owner was courteous, kind, 
patient, and hospitable; but he did cut off our retreat when 
from time to time we made a break for liberty. Years of his 
life, and apparently ali of his income, had been spent in search- 
ing for these shadow pictures in every corner of Europe and 
America. The search, begun as a pastime, had become the 
absorbing principle of his life. It had doubtless given him 
hours of anxiety and hours of ecstasy. Yet here was the 
magnifìcent result, the vastest collection of silhouettes in the 
world; and three visitors, dazed and fagged, trying to escape 
from its vastness. My word! Cornelia's Roman friend who 
was asked to look at two school boys had an easy time of it. 



THE ElGHTH DECADE 211 

The reviews of Times and Tendencies were not ali in 
commendatory agreement as had been the majority of the 
reviews of Agnes Repplier's other collections of essays. 
One critic apparently did find this most recent volume of 
much the same value as the rest. "Those who . . . continue 
to think a little and who can endure a wholesome astrin- 
gency of phrase and thought," she felt, "will be proud of 
this book. They will even enjoy it enormously." But this 
notice was rather the exception. "The shade of difference 
between this and most of [Agnes Repplier's] earlier books 
is in the subjects," a second critic wrote. And that he did 
not altogether appreciate the difference is indicated by his 
explanation of it. "It is due perhaps to the changes ... in 
the demands of the magazines that were formerly called 
literary. The typical magazine essay now is a sort of ex- 
tended editorial. Its topic is current. It is ali about today 
and tomorrow, about here and now." A third critic agreed 
more with the second than with the first, though he would 
lay the fault at the writer's door rather than place the 
blame upon the editors and their changed demands. He 
commented: 

Miss Repplier's precision is dulled and her clarity dimmed in 
this book by a note of personal weariness and vexation. The 
genial satire reaches toward cynicism . . . The writing is that 
of one who, though thoroughly urbane, is getting very tired 
of the foolishness of the world and perhaps a trifle impatient 
with her own urbanity. 

Whether the difference between Times and Tendencies 
and, for example, A Happy Half-Century was the result 
of a changed market and changed demands, as the one 
critic had suggested, or of a personal weariness, as the 



212 AGNES REPPL1ER 

other had believed, may be a matter of question— though 
Agnes Repplier was now seventy-six and might reasonably 
be expected to feel somewhat weary, it might be pointed 
out. Certain it was that for those who could remember— 
as well as think, to use the third critic's comment— this 
latest volume could not approach many an earlier collec- 
tion when it carne to the matter of sheer reading pleas- 
ure. One regretted both the "times" and its consequent 
"tendencies." 

Mère Marie of the Ursulines, another biography in the 
fashion of Pére Marquette, was published in the same year 
as Times and Tendencies, and was made a selection of both 
the Literary Guild of America and the Catholic Book 
Club. It tells the story— "A Study in Ad venture'* is its 
subtitle— of Mère Marie de l'Incarnation who helped in 
the founding of the Ursuline convent at Quebec in 1641. 
As was the case with Pére Marquette, Mère Marie of the 
Ursulines contains almost as many literary allusions and 
quotations from the lore of the centuries as any single vol- 
ume of Agnes Repplier 's essays. But the mark of the es- 
sayist, though it be here plainly stamped on the work of 
the biographer, never impedes the story, adding rather 
only to the enjoyment of the reader. 

In 1932, Agnes Repplier published a book entitled To 
Think of Tea! which endeavored to do for that drink 
something similar to what The Fireside Sphinx had done 
for cats. This is not a complete history of tea by any man- 
ner of means, but it is a consideration of certain historical 
aspects of the drinking of tea. There is a chapter on "The 
Corning of Tea to England," one on "The Blue-Stocking 
Tea-Drinkers of England," one on "Some Recent Tea- 






THE EIGHTH DECADE 213 

Drinkers of England," and fìnally, one on "The Drinking 
of Tea Today." 

To Think of Tea! is Miss Repplier at her best. Here is 
no caviling at contemporary social mispractices, no ob- 
jecting to earnest if misguided feminists, no railing against 
stupid reforms. The war, now almost fifteen years in the 
past, has been quite forgotten, and books and booklore, 
and the praises of a day that meant far more to Agnes Rep- 
plier than the present, be it wartime or no, hold full and 
happy sway. 

Mr. Newton enjoyed To Think of Tea! with almost 
extravagant abandon. He wrote to ali his friends, issuing 
invitations to a Sunday luncheon, with a curious combina- 
tion of crassness and generosity. The invitation to lunch- 
eon was accompanied by a note that read: 

My friend Agnes Repplier's new book TO THINK OF TEA! 
is a sheer delight. It is compact with learning and wisdom— 
which is not the same thing— and it is ironical and witty. 

I am pleased to note that as the lady grows older— she is no 
longer in her thirties— she, like Dr. Johnson, is "prepared to 
cali a man a good man on easier terms than heretofore." 

The format of the book is admirable. It is published by 
Houghton Mifflin Co. of Boston and costs $2.75. 

I regret that times being what they are I cannot arTord to 
send you a copy. But 1*11 teli you what I will do. If you buy a 
copy and don't like it I will take it off your hands for $1.50 
and give it to some appreciative friend at Christmas. Thus it 
will cost you only $1.25 to read one of the most delightful vol- 
umes of essays that has appeared in years. 

And so Agnes Repplier traveled west to Oak Knoll one 
Sunday in November to receive the congratulations of Mr. 
Newton's friends who had braved the cold as well as put 
up the necessary two dollars and seventy-flve cents for 



214 AGNES REPPL1ER 

the privilege of attendance at tea in honor of the essayist. 
And duly she was photographed on one side of a tea table, 
caught in the act of pouring, with Newton seated in his in- 
evitable checkered suit on the other, clutching rather ob- 
viously a copy of To Think of Tea! 

The year following To Think of Tea! brought forth 
the third in the series of biographies of Roman Catholic 
fìgures from the past. Junipero Serra, Pioneer Colonist of 
California tells the story of the adventurous priest who 
founded eight missions in what is now the state of Cali- 
fornia. In the Foreword to the biography, Agnes Rep- 
plier wrote: 

From Serra's own diary, from the diaries and letters of Fran- 
ciscan friars, from the correspondence of viceroys and visita- 
dores, from the casual comments of contemporaries, and from 
the pages of earlier biographers, this pioneer priest emerges 
a finished portrait which I have endeavored to put upon paper. 
If I can awaken but a tithe of the admiration and affection I 
have felt for my subject, I shall be well content. 

That the reviewers at least did feel something of the 
author's "admiration and affection" is evidenced by the 
notices Junipero Serra received. One calls it "a labor of 
love;" another "a noble [biography] in a great tradition." 
And a third remarks that this latest book "demonstrates 
once again that felicitous mastery of English expression 
made famous by [Agnes Repplier's] essays." 

© © © 

Nineteen-thirty-five was made memorable to Miss Rep- 
plier by the fact that it was the year in which she received 
two citations (the last, as it happened) to add to her list 
of honors. In June of that year Princeton University 




Charles G. Osgood 
A. Edward Newton 



Mrs. Newton 

Miss Repplier 



THE EIGHTH DECADE 215 

awarded hcr the degree of Doctor of Letters, Agnes Rep- 
plier's fourth such academic honor. Pennsylvania, Notre 
Dame, Yale, Columbia, and now Princeton: the universi- 
ties had been generous in their recognition of the writer's 
more than flfty years of steady writing. 

Some nine years before, the National Institute of Arts 
and Letters, in which Harrison Morris had been active as 
Treasurer for many years, had granted membership to f our 
distinguished women of letters: Edith Wharton, Mar- 
garet Deland, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, and Agnes Rep- 
plier. That had seemed honor enough, but there was to be 
more for the essayist. 

One day she received notification that the Institute had 
presented her with its Gold Medal in recognition of her 
long years of excellence in the field of writing. Her Boston 
publishers ran a large advertisement in the Transcript: 
"Felicitations to the American Institute of Arts and Letters 
for their award of the Gold Medal in Essays and Belle 
Lettres to Agnes Repplier," to which was appended a com- 
plete list of the books by the recipient that they had pub- 
lished. The author was sincerely aifected by the honor 
that had been done her. "And," as she would say, "the 
medal is so big and gold and handsome." 

© © © 

Louis Repplier was seventy-five years of age. Latterly 
he had taken it upon himself now and again to journey out 
of the center of the city to visit his nephew and his f amily 
in one of Philadelphia's suburbs. Dr. Sidney Repplier was 
the oldest child of Lancaster Repplier, and Uncle Louis 
was particularly fond of his children. His great delight was 



216 AGNES REPPLIER 

in calling upon them, armed with a jar of hard candies 
which his grandnephew and grandnieces found much to 
their liking even though their pleasure in receiving the 
sweets was somewhat mitigated by the ordeal of having 
to bury their faces in Uncle Louis' whiskers in order to 
reward his kindness with a kiss. 

It was in returning from one of these excursions that 
Louis Repplier was struck by an automobile and so seri- 
ously injured that it seemed doubtful he would e ver walk 
again. His sisters had him taken to a nursing home in Ger- 
mantown where, every few days, one or the other of them 
would visit him. The Constant journeys were a considerable 
drain on Agnes Repplier 's health and strength (she was 
seventy-nine at the time of the accident) , but f or fi ve years 
she traveled back and forth, in good weather and bad, see- 
ing to her brother's wants with ali the care and love she 
f elt was her responsibility. 

In his eightieth year Louis Repplier died and was buried 
in the Repplier brothers' vault at St. John's on South Thir- 
teenth Street, the final resting place of ali the Repplier 
family for generations. The little church, settled within its 
somewhat cramped churchyard across the Street from the 
vast Wanamaker store, the hub of the city to ali good Phila- 
delphians, offered at last its peaceful sanctuary to "the help- 
less one." 

When the simple ceremony was over, and Agnes Rep- 
plier and the few mourners were about to leave the church, 
the essayist turned to her sister and was heard to remark 
with characteristic directness: "Well, it's a blessed 
relief that Louis is at his rest— and so convenient to 
Wanamaker's!" 

ODO 



THE EIGHTH DECADE 217 

In 1934, Agnes Repplier published a slim but effective 
biography of Agnes Irwin. Like her book about Dr. White, 
it was more a gesture of gratitude, a tribute to friendship, 
than a financial venture, and it gave its author real pleasure 
in the writing. From its pages Miss Irwin emerged as a 
strong personality, the champion of worthy causes, a force 
in American education. And its style was that of Agnes 
Repplier at her most pleasing. She could well be satisfled 
with the book; Miss Irwin would have been proud of her 
former pupil. 

Two more volumes remained before Agnes Repplier's 
career as writer would be largely finished. In Pursuit of 
Laughter, published in 1936, follows The Fireside Sphinx 
and To Think of Tea! rather than her more usuai collec- 
tions of essays. In a sense it traces the history of humor 
from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. But it is 
"no dry and sober history of humor. It is the flight of a 
subtle and penetrating mind lightly pursuing laughter down 
the centuries. ,, The Middle Ages, Elizabethan England, the 
Restoration, the Eighteenth Century, each yields its store 
of good tales, its contributions to gaiety, its wit and learn- 
ing that no one knew better how to present to modem read- 
ers than Agnes Repplier. 

Ellery Sedgwick, in the Atlantic Monthly, sang the 
praises of author and book: 

For full two generations Miss Agnes Repplier has not ceased 
to be a bright and finished ornament of American Letters. 
Who matches her in craftsmanship? Who excels her in disci- 
pline, in the honest withholding of praise, or in its just be- 
stowal? She is the inheritor of a more ancient excellence than 
ours, and among Americans she has become a sort of con- 
temporary ancestor, a summation of the best that has gone be- 



218 AGNES REPPLIER 

fore. She it is who traces the "Pursuit of Laughter," and her 
quest is recorded in a book of delights to be read and digested 
with smiles but not with laughter, for laughter is dead and 
this book is its epitaph. 

Agnes Repplier's last volume of essays and her final 
book, Eight Decades, was published the year following 
In Pursuit of Laughter. It is made up of sixteen essays 
gleaned from the preceding thirty and more years, the best, 
she felt, of her work. And in addition there is the title 
paper, "Eight Decades," "a slice of autobiography," as the 
publishers called it. 

Eight Decades proved once more Agnes Repplier's 
"very real gifts of style, wit, wisdom and urbane tolerance. ,, 
More than that, the writing which these papers exhibits is 
of an ali but unif orm excellence, even though the first essay 
in the collection is separated in time from the last by more 
than three of the author's eight decades. Most telling of 
ali perhaps, the book does not date, for, as one reviewer 
put it, Agnes Repplier "has something to say which holds 
the reader of the nineteen-thirties as her earlier work held 
the reader of the eighties and nineties." "The Masterful 
Puritan," "Allegra," "Town and Suburb," "When Lalla 
Rookh Was Young:" in them ali Agnes Repplier writes 
with as sure a touch as the best of her calling. And her 
"learning leaves us gasping." Well may we ask with Mary 
Ellen Chase: "Has she read ali her fife and forgotten 
nothing? " 

ODO 

Agnes Repplier's work was almost over. Nineteen-thirty- 
eight saw the publication of eight essays, but the following 



THE EIGHTH DECADE 219 

year none at ali. Then in January 1940, the essayist ap- 
peared for the last time in the Atlantic Monthly with a 
paper on "The Brothers Housman." Its author was shortly 
to celebrate her eighty-fifth birthday. It was time, she felt, 
to cali a halt. As she would say, in her time she had en- 
dured the dribblings of too many octogenarian authors. 
She had no use for the last feeble utterances of people. She 
would inflict none on what it pleased her to label a "long- 
surT ering public." 

Two years later, in 1942, when an anthology of the 
"best" of some ninety or more "greatest living American 
authors" was proposed, Agnes Repplier was asked to con- 
tribute. Her niece, Mrs. Witmer, wrote the editor: " 'My 
aunt, Agnes Repplier, received your letter, but she has been 
ili for the last two years, very weak and frail and confined 
to her bed. She is not able to write . . . ' " But she did se- 
lect an essay for the anthology, a paper of six years earlier 
on "Horace," for, she said, " 'There never would be a time 
when people would not want to read about Horace.' " 

Essayist, biographer, wit, stylist among stylists, Agnes 
Repplier had earned the right to rest from her labors of 
more than sixty years. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Agnes Repplier: Literary Artist 

i 

ODOOOOOODOODOOOOOOOOOODO 

Although it is possible that a casual reader coming upon 
a copy of Books and Men with its title page missing would 
not suspect the author of being an American, it is even 
more likely that he would not suspect the author of being 
a Roman Catholic. That the writer was a woman would no 
doubt be surmised. But the only conclusion that could be 
hazarded with any degree of certainty would be that the 
essayist was a person displaying an extraordinary range of 
reading interests, and, in addition, an unusual ability to put 
ideas into words. 

Although there was a graduai inflltration of native ma- 
terial into Agnes Repplier's writings as she progressed from 
volume to volume, it was not until more than half of her 
books of essays had been published that she swung defi- 
nitely and, for a time at least, almost completely to the 
consideration of American problems as distinct from the 
English facts, f ancies, and foibles that had been her particu- 
lar delight. But such mundane material, vital as it appeared 
to be for nearly twenty years, could not Iure her indefi- 
nitely. So compelling was the earlier, more sympathetic 

220 



AGNES REPPLIER: L1TERARY ARTIST 221 

contemplation of things English, that Agnes Repplier was 
drawn irresistibly to concluding her career in the very vein 
in which she had begun it. 

"Look where we will, we find the author's future work 
reflected in the intellectual pastimes of his childhood," she 
had written in her first collection of essays. To Think of 
Tea! (1932) and In Pursuit of Laughter (1936) are far 
closer to Books and Men, published almost fifty years 
earlier, than they are to their immediate predecessor, Times 
and Tendencies (1931). Her rightful field was not the stu- 
pidities of contemporary America, for the "intellectual 
pastimes" of her childhood had concerned themselves al- 
most exclusively with the English literary history of an- 
other day. 

© © © 

To exclude an extended account here of the biographies, 
one finds among the various volumes of essays certain ones 
that are as books distinctly femmine as well as certain in- 
dividuai essays in other collections that exhibit unmistak- 
ably the author's sex. Most obvious among the books that 
are themselves femmine as units is In Our Convent Days, 
and this be cause it is biography in a sense, if perhaps some- 
what romanticized biography. The long biographical title 
essay in Eight Decades, the only part of this volume not a 
reprint from previous collections, belongs in the same cate- 
gory. These could not, by their very nature, avoid being 
the peculiar product of a feminine mind inasmuch as they 
are the picturings of the life of the author. 

Two other books may be classed with In Our Convent 
Days, not because they are in any way autobiographical, 






222 AGNES REPPL1ER 

but because their content is of a sort usually considered— 
in this country and in this day at least— femmine. The 
Fireside Sphinx, being as it is a history-of-sorts of the do- 
mestic cat down through the ages, ofTers material appealing 
primarily to women. The cat has, rightly or wrongly, and 
in spite of Agnes Repplier's Constant references to the 
feline pets of masculine literary figures of the past which 
would seem to indicate that the contrary was so, come 
to be associated more with women than with men. Just 
as a dog is man's pet, so a cat is woman's. And The Fire- 
side Sphinx is a woman's book. 

The second of these two books distinctly feminine be- 
cause of their material is To Think of Tea! The very fact 
that Agnes Repplier does not consider tea drinking in any 
way a femmine taste, nor the fact that once it was not here 
in this country so considered, cannot alter the case that 
for the most part tea drinking is in truth just that. Books on 
tea have been written by men* but largely from a com- 
mercial point of view, not a literary or an artistic one. 
And To Think of Tea! remains feminine or at best a curi- 
osity to the average masculine reader. 

For the most part, what applies to certain of her books 
applies as well to individuai essays of Agnes Repplier's. 
Thus there are a number of papers that are undeniably 
feminine, not only because of treatment, but also because 
of material: "The Eternai Femmine/' "The Spinster," 
"The Literary Lady," "The Temptations of Ève," to name 
only a few. And they prove to be interesting reading to 
the men in her audience because of their style, because of 
their literary and historical references, and in spite of their 

* Witness, for example, William H. Ukers' work. 



AGNES REPPL1ER: LITERARY ARTIST 223 

subject matter. That indeed is one of the wonders of Agnes 
Repplier: she could win a man to an avid reading of her 
by the way in which she expressed herself, even when that 
of which she wrote would have been scorned by that very 
man if offered to him by a less consummate artist. 

There are in addition to this class of essays distinctly fem- 
mine by virtue of their material, certain other essays femi- 
nine more through treatment than because of coment. 
Such are "Allegra," a sympathetic and fundamentally 
womanly essay on Byron's ill-starred daughter, and "When 
Lalla Rookh Was Young," a most amusing account of the 
extraordinary effects of Moore's poem upon his audience. 
Such also is "Three Famous Old Maids." "Women and 
War," and "Woman Enthroned," to choose two more at 
random, had they been written by a man, would have been 
far different from what they are as offered by Agnes 
Repplier. 

But this is not ali. If perversity be a characteristic pecul- 
iarly femmine— and one perhaps had better avoid dogmatic 
assertion here— then certain of Agnes Repplier's essays are 
femmine because of what might be labeled their perversity. 
Whatever else may on occasion have added its weight to 
the balance, it is clear that Miss Repplier more than once 
chose deliberately to tread a nobly aloof and independent 
path. If this were perversity, and if perversity be an attri- 
bute of the feminine make-up, then in these instances the 
essayist displayed herself in an obviously feminine fashion. 

Agnes Repplier held no. special brief for women. "The 
right to be judged as men are judged is perhaps the only 
form of equality which feminists fail to demand," she 
wrote with evident scorn in "Woman Enthroned." On the 



224 AGNES REPPLIER 

other hand, she was not one to allow men to cow her. 
" 'Never has a virgin, young or old, produced a work 
of art/ " she quotes Edmond de Goncourt as having said, 
and comments witheringly: "One makes allowances for 
the Latin point of view. And it is possible that M. de Gon- 
court never read 'Emma.' " But in the final analysis, Agnes 
Repplier took no pains to disguise her sex, for she was 
neither ashamed nor regretful that she had been born a 
woman. "The girl who lounged opposite us in the carriage, 
and who would be a very pretty girl in any other con- 
ceivable hat . . . " is both typical of its author and of her 
kind. 

ODO 

It was not often that Agnes Repplier devoted an entire 
essay to the delineation of some phase, interest, or mani- 
festation of the Roman Catholic Church, the church in 
which she herself had been brought up. There are some 
essays, such as "The Pilgrim's Staff,' ' an account of pil- 
grims, pilgrimages, and famous European shrines, as well 
as several papers designed for the special audience of the 
Catholic World, which are Roman Catholic to the core. 
And there are certain other essays in which one strongly 
suspects that the author's interest was to some extent at 
least stimulated by her religious background. "The Cava- 
lier," a picture of Graham of Claverhouse, and "The 
Pietist," an account in part of how the "happy half-cen- 
tury" treated Roman Catholics, papers not given over en- 
tirely to Catholicism, are sufficienriy inclined sympatheti- 
cally in that direction to indicate unmistakably her own 
affiliation. In fact, it would not be too much to con- 



AGNES REPPLIER: LITERARY ARTIST 225 

tend that Miss Repplier's unqualified dislike for most 
things Puritan stemmed, and understandably so, from her 
religious training. 

In Our Convent Days Agnes Repplier labeled her one 
book "designed for my own people." But In Our Convent 
Days remained unique. Her biographies of Mère Marie, 
Pére Marquette, and Junipero Serra were not designed for 
her "own people." Each, although an undeniably promi- 
nent figure in the Roman Catholic Church, was suffi- 
ciently signiflcant to the non-Catholic world to have ap- 
peal merely as a historical personage. As biographer she 
imposed no limitation upon them. 

Agnes Repplier's faith reveals itself largely in subtle 
ways in her writing. Now and again it crops out in some 
sucri obvious declaration as: "There is a charming and 
gracious dogma of Roman Catholicism which would have 
us believe that ali good deeds and holy prayers make up a 
spiritual treasury, a public fund, from which are drawn 
consolation for the church suffering, and strength for the 
church militant." But most often it is evidenced no more 
than in a general liberal conservatism of outlook plus a fine 
sense of proportion, the result of her having had to supple- 
ment the Catholic viewpoint she had learned at home and 
in her convent training with the Protestant viewpoint she 
found in the world around her. 

ODO 

The general impression a casual reader of Agnes Rep- 
plier's essays might gain of her attitude toward Americans 
would be one of amused toleration or, from those written 
during the period of the First World War, of something 



226 AGNES REPPLIER 

approaching contempt. "Sixty-two years ago Mr. James 
Russell Lowell published in the Atlantic Monthly an 
urbanely caustic essay, 'On a Certain Condescension in 
Foreigners,' " she wrote in one paper. "Yet the condescen- 
sion which Mr. Lowell deprecated, and which was based 
upon superiority of culture, seems like respectful flattery 
compared to the condescension which Americans now daily 
display, and which is based upon superiority of wealth." 
As for the amused toleration, we find ready illustration 
in "Actor and Audience": 

A veteran actor has asked, rather superciliously, if anyone 
has ever heard an intelligent comment upon a play made by a 
member of the departing audience. Intelligence is a large order; 
but if we are content to be amused at such moments, we may 
have our fili of entertainment. When the curtain fell upon 
John Barrymore's Hamlet, and I was making my way out of 
the theatre, wondering what principle had dictated the ruthless 
and arbitrary cutting of the text, a lady in front of me said to 
her companion: "What I liked best was that we had the play 
just as Shakespeare wrote it. There wasn't a line left out." "Oh, 
but there was," said the second lady. "I waited ali evening to 
hear the queen say, 'Out, damned spot.' and she never said it." 

If our casual reader confined himself to the first half- 
dozen volumes of essays Miss Repplier published, he might 
come to the conclusion that the essayist thought nothing 
one way or the other of Americans, so slight are her ref er- 
ences to them in these books. The English and the French 
(with occasionai excursions among the Italians and the 
Germans) would, by the very weight of preponderance, 
appear to crowd her native countrymen almost entirely off 
the scene. 

Yet her amused toleration, her open contempt, her seem- 



AGNES REPPL1ER: L1TERARY ARTIST 227 

ing indifference, ali this was apparently much a matter of 
the moment, the interest immediately at hand, for in "A 
Question of Politeness" Agnes Repplier wrote with evi- 
dent sincerity: "The American is not without gentleness of 
speech and spirit. He is not always in a hurry. He is not 
always elbowing his way, or quivering with ill-bred im- 
patience. Tura to him for help in a crowd, and feel the 
bright sureness of his response ..." 

America itself was not unknown to Agnes Repplier. Her 
lecturing took her far and wide, and she had made one 
long pilgrimage to California and Alaska. Her biography of 
Mère Marie carried her in study to Canada, that of Pére 
Marquette to the valley of the Mississippi, that of Junipero 
Serra to the Southwest. Her travels in and reading of 
America, as well as her Constant keen observation, would 
forestali any criticism of her as unaware of the American 
scene. 

But for ali her loyalty to her native land, Agnes Rep- 
plier loved Europe with almost an equal devotion. She was 
ne ver surfeited with travel abroad. "The pretty adage, 
'Tout homme a deux pays: le sien et puis la FranceJ is truer 
of us than of any other people in the worid," she wrote 
in "The Estranging Sea." If her own life and interests did 
not always bear out such a contention (for surely England 
held sway over France, even in spite of her inherited Gallic 
inclinations), the comment is worth noting. It indicates an 
attitude of mind and spirit that is typically Repplierean. 
Her own country, yes; but e ver since her first, long- 
dreamed-of trip had been realized, travel abroad as often 
as possible. 

Agnes Repplier cared little for scenery as such. Her 



228 AGNES REPPLIER 

heart lay in the cities of the world. In them she met people, 
and from people she learned the ways of their country. 
Her essays are filled with the unusual, the out-of-the-way, 
so that they become almost anthologies of lost, forgotten, 
or unf amiliar customs and manners. 

To this endless curiosity to know about people, literary 
people out of the happy past, satisfied to a considerale ex- 
tent by travel in the cities their hearty ghosts stili haunted, 
the essayist brought as well an extraordinary love and ap- 
preciation of history. "I used to think that ignorance of 
history meant only a lack of cultivation and a loss of pleas- 
ure," she wrote in "Living in History." "Now I am sur e 
that such ignorance impairs our judgment by impairing our 
understanding, by depriving us of standards, of the power 
to contrast, and the right to estimate. We can know noth- 
ing of any nation unless we know its history; and we can 
know nothing of the history of any nation unless we know 
something of the history of ali nations." 

The ordinary essayist of Agnes Repplier's period, com- 
ing out of Philadelphia and feted primarily in Boston, 
might well deserve the charge of provincialism or, at best, 
sectionalism. But her writings know no limits in geography 
at least, whatever other limitations may have been set 
upon them by virtue of the personality of the author. 

ODO 

Early in her career as essayist, Agnes Repplier had openly 
declared herself opposed to unbridled reformers and their 
reforms. In "What Children Read," an essay belonging in 
her first collection, she had admitted quite frankly that 
she disliked "reform" books for children, the sort pro- 
duced by Flora Shaw and Susan Warner. In the same voi- 



AGNES REPPLIER: L1TERARY ARTIST 229 

urne she wrote of "the intolerable sting of that modem 
gadfly, the professional agitator and socialistic champion 
of the poor." A dozen years later Miss Repplier was stili 
of the same mind. "Reformers ha ve unswervingly and un- 
pityingly decreased the world's coment that they might 
better the world's condition," she complained in "The 
Gayety of Life." And as time passed, she remained adamant 
in her attitude. 

In ali this rebuffing of the endless tide of reform, Agnes 
Repplier's frame of mind can be seen to have resulted from 
the workings of two characteristics instinct with her. The 
author, both through inheritance and through her formai 
education and lifelong reading and study, was a patrician. 
True, she was not a social aristocrat, not by birth; she be- 
longed in a far more worthy class, f or hers was an intellec- 
tual aristocracy. And coupled with this, derived to a certain 
extent from it, was her ability to see through to bedrock 
fundamentals. Hence sentimental reform of the somewhat 
spectacular sort that called for demonstrations, strikes and 
the like, could never hold appeal for her if for no other 
reason than that she was constitutionally incapable of 
entering into such demonstrations. Even after she had 
turned to the writing of ardent interventionist papers dur- 
ing the First World War, her ring, so to speak, remained 
her study or the eminently genteel, tight, socially and in- 
tellectually correct Contemporary Club. And because, as 
she saw it, the reforms demanded by the clamorers of her 
day ("Give the business of running the world to the 
women, and there will be no more wars," for example) 
were so patently surface, their value left her unmoved, 
for she saw no value in them. 

There was no hardness, save superficially, and certainly 



230 AGNES REPPLIER 

no indir! erence in Agnes Repplier's relation to humanitarian 
reform. She was endowed with a sense of proportion that 
could not countenance the excesses, the extraordinary lim- 
its, as she saw them, that popular reformers would de- 
mand. And her sense of humor was too keenly developed to 
allow her to overlook the f act, as she regarded it, that much 
of the proposed reform and many of the proposing reform- 
ers were plainly ridiculous. For the most part, Miss Rep- 
plier preferred to let the world work out its problems in 
the age-old way, that is, by letting the problems work 
themselves out. Her inbred conservatism rebelled at short 
cuts that sacrifìced common sense and good taste in an ef- 
fort to achieve reward not deserved except by honest eff ort. 

o © o 

Agnes Repplier was not without her unreasonable 
prejudices. It could scarcely be expected that she would 
be; after ali, she was quite human. More than that, she was 
a woman. And even more, she was distinctly a gentle- 
woman. During the First World War she was eminently 
unfair, narrow-minded even, where the Irish were con- 
cerned. Perhaps her dislike for the Irish can be explained 
in part by the f act that it had been ingrained by her mother, 
and she had come, further, to resent the fact that in the 
United States the Irish had seemingly preémpted the Ro- 
man Catholic Church, though neither may condone her 
attitude. 

The essayist was even more ungraciously prejudiced 
toward the Germans. " 'The Germans are a rude, unman- 
nered race, but active and expert where their personal ad- 
vantages are concerned,' wrote the observant Froissart 



AGNES REPPLIER: LITERARY ART1ST 231 

many years ago. He could say neither more nor less were he 
traveling over the Continent to-day," she commented in a 
paper written some ten years before the outbreak of the 
First World War. In ali her volumes of essays one sympa- 
thetic reference to a German stands out as striking because 
it is unique. 

For ali her evident love of the English, Miss Repplier 
bore no illusions where their faults were concerned. She 
knew them too well. But it was both easy and naturai for 
her to rush to their aid in whatever way she could when 
war threatened that country. It was doubly easy, as it hap- 
pened, because Germany, a country whose people had 
never aroused her sympathy or esteem, stood as the enemy. 

The writer's tried and trusted friend Agnes Irwin urged 
her; Dr. White sought her collaboration; and Theodore 
Roosevelt added his cajolings. The air was full of pro-Brit- 
ish sympathy. America was plainly shirking its duty. She 
would not shirk hers. 

And so there was offered to the public a long list of es- 
says motivated, not by literary history, the fleld Miss Rep- 
plier knew and loved so well, but by a new and suddenly 
purposeful creed. The essayist became an ardent crusader, 
a reformer as it were, and this in spite of her equally ardent 
dislike for crusaders and reformers. It is true that the issues 
were, at least to her, more vital than those that attracted the 
ordinary crusader. But what difference there may have 
been between the two was one of degree, not of kind. 

The majority of essays Agnes Repplier wrote during the 
nearly three years between the beginning of hostilities in 
Europe and the entry of the United States imo the war deal 
with the cause of intervention in one way or another. And 



232 AGNES REPPLIER 

the general tone of these papers is one of bitterness. They 
are characterized by caustic, wry humor, by biting sar- 
casm, by invective verging on the openly libelous. 

The aftereff ect of these war papers was felt, in the essays 
of Agnes Repplier, f or more than a dozen years following 
the cessation of that which had called them forth. Having 
experienced the excitement of a crusade, and evidently 
having enjoyed the feeling, the writer uncovered others 
to replace the one that no longer existed. Thus she loosed 
her scorn upon suffragettes, upon penai reform, upon the 
prohibitionist, upon almost any topic that would allow her 
to continue in the biting, caustic vein that had become 
a part of her during the siege against the pacifist and the 
isolationist. Commenting on the aftermath of the war in 
"Peace and the Pacifist, " she confessed: "There are many 
of us who have f ailed to regain the lightness of heart which 
seemed a normal condition before this horror carne." As 
far as her writings were concerned, it was as if she had be- 
come so wound up immediately prior to and during the 
war that time was needed for her in which to unwind. And 
it was not until 1932 and the publication of To Think of 
Tea! that, in her essays at least, she had reached the de- 
gree of equanimity that had been hers before the "horror 
carne." 

It is not so curious as it might on first consideration seem 
that Agnes Repplier lost ali interest in intervention in 
world affairs after the war was over. Agnes Irwin was 
dead; Dr. White and Theodore Roosevelt were gone. Such 
chilling f acts had their eff ect. But at the core of the change 
lay the essayist's true affections. She was not a crusader; 
she was not a politician. She was not comfortable with 



AGNES REPPLIER: LITERARY ART1ST 233 

those who advocated causes. And she could no more for- 
swear the power of the intellectual pastimes of her child- 
hood, which, as she had said, an author's work reflected, 
than she could forswear the power of love itself. It was 
inevitable that she should return to the older, far happier 
pursuits. 

It is a woman's prerogative, we are told, to change her 
mind. If in Counter-Currents, Under Dispute, and Times 
and Tendencies, Agnes Repplier had seemingly contra- 
dicted in content and in tone much of what had gone 
before and much that was to come after, she may merely 
have been exercising her prerogative. For first and last, 
she was a very woman among women. 

II 

Although Agnes Repplier was the author of some eight 
extended pieces of biographical writing, three of these 
alone stand as being of primary importance. The other 
flve, undeniably excellent as writing per se, remain some- 
what less than the others as biography by virtue either of 
their size, their intent, or their general appeal. Without 
question Mère Marie of the Ursulines, Pére Marquette, and 
Junipero Serra are the three volumes that give Agnes Rep- 
plier rank among the foremost of American biographers. 

Of ali the biographies Miss Repplier wrote, the one 
which most marks her as a Philadelphian is that dealing 
with her native city. An outsider could well have written as 
historically accurate a biography, but it took an insider to 
achieve the subtleties of significance that distinguisi! Phila- 
delphia, the Place and the People (1898). However, al- 
though it was written at the behest of Macmillan for that 



234 AGNES REPPLIER 

company's "Travel Series," and, presumably, would have 
sale beyond the city limits, it remains a book of greatest 
interest to its own people whose history it recalls and 
records. 

Because they are autobiographical in nature, In Our 
Convent Days (1905) and the title essay in Eight Decades 
(1937) stand apart from the body of Agnes Repplier's 
biographical writings. That the former is a somewhat ro- 
manticized account of incidents out of the author's early 
stay at Eden Hall and the latter a tantalizingly brief sum- 
mary of her life up to her eightieth year both adds to and 
takes away from what at first might appear to be their real 
worth as autobiographies. In Our Convent Days, although 
fully detailed, is a bit too smooth for total accuracy, and 
"Eight Decades," uncompromisingly honest, is too cursory 
to allow of much detail. 

Agnes Irwin: A Biography (1934), a slight volume if 
judged by bulk alone, was something of a labor of love, 
even though it had been sponsored by the Agnes and 
Sophy Dallas Irwin Memorial Fund. Agnes Repplier had 
the warmest affection for her early mentor, an afTection 
that had grown through the years, for although Miss Irwin 
was considerably Miss Repplier's senior, theirs had been a 
dose friendship after the initial failure. But Agnes Irwin is 
not among Miss Repplier's more important works, though 
as an appreciative gesture it is pleasant, and as a source of 
information concerning the author's days at the Irwin 
School, as well as after, it is valuable. 

A far larger work in every respect than the book about 
Miss Irwin is /. William White, M.D.: A Biography 
(1919). And this is so not only because the friendship be- 



AGNES REPPLIER: LITERARY ARTIST 235 

tween the author and her subject was more complete than 
that between the teacher and her former pupil (Miss Irwin 
being somewhat too formidable a person f or siich <friend- 
ships), but also because Dr. White was a considerably more 
colorful individuai than the first Dean of Radcliffe College. 
/. William White is a rewarding book. It must have ofTered 
its author considerable pleasure in the writing. But its 
limitation is the limitation of its subject: prominent as he no 
doubt was in medicai circles, Dr. White is not a "large" 
subject when compared with the figures with whom Miss 
Repplier deals in her three most important biographical 
works. 

© o o 

In Pére Marquette: Priest, Pioneer and Adventurer 
(1929), Agnes Repplier wrote the first of a series of three 
biographies dealing with early figures in the history of the 
Roman Catholic Church in America. In ali three she lays 
aside of necessity ali considerations purely contemporary, 
ali those immediate likes and dislikes that, for example, 
quite naturally marked her biographies of Agnes Irwin and 
Dr. White. In ali three she returns to the style of her former 
writings before the war and problems of the day beset her. 

Pére Marquette tells the history of that pioneer-priest's 
coming to New France, of his work in and around Quebec, 
and of his discovery, along with Joliet, of the Mississippi 
Ri ver, which, as the author comments, "for a stream of its 
magnitude . . . was singularly elusive." Of its nineteen 
chapters, Rve have little to do with the centrai character, 
contributing instead both proloque and epilogue, though 
not so designated, to the main drama. But although these 



236 AGNES REPPLIER 

chapters may on the surface appear to have been included 
to give book proportions to an otherwise brief story, one 
does not resent them. They are so marked by the author's 
artful selection of detail and by her excellence in expression 
that they become in themselves outstanding as essays. Thus 
"The Lure of the Mississippi" or " 'The Indians of the 
Prayer,' " to choose two of the fìve, are, unless one insists 
that Agnes Repplier is at her best only when she is writing 
of literary history, as effective essays as any she ever 
wrote. Furthermore, because the picture is thus supple- 
mented with authoritative related material, Pére Marquette 
becomes a book that has worth not only as biography, but 
as history. 

"M. André Maurois, who has told us— and shown us— 
how to write biographies, says that in every life there is 
a hidden rhythm," Agnes Repplier notes in this story of 
Pére Marquette. "The biographer's business," she con- 
tinues, "is to discover this mysterious music, and to note 
its correspondence with outward circumstances, its re- 
sponse to any influence, seen or felt, which strikes an im- 
pelling note." And this Agnes Repplier succeeds in doing 
in Pére Marquette. Thus she makes of him, not just a 
priest of the Catholic Church sent out to proselytize the 
native Indians, but a pioneer, because he was motivated in 
large part by a reaching out into the unknown, and a dis- 
coverer, because that, even more than converting the 
Indians to Catholicism, was his destiny. 

The centrai theme in the "mysterious music" of Pére 
Marquette's life was the drumbeat of the "Red Gods;" 
the chant remained a secondary motive, strong, impelling, 
but not prime in his life. Had Pére Marquette been merely 



AGNES REPPL1ER: LITERARY ARTIST 237 

a priest, even a missionary, he could have carried on a re- 
spectably produttive life much nearer his native Laon. But 
he was not. He was an adventurer— to use that word in its 
purest sense— of the Catholic Church. 

And his biographer does not hesitate to make him out 
such an adventurer: 

Although the conversion of heathen tribes is understood to be 
the aim and end of a missionary's existence, it is impossible to 
read Pére Marquette's narrative (Joliet's was unhappily lost 
in the swollen waters of the St. Lawrence) without a pleasant 
realization that the sentiment uppermost in the hearts of these 
two young men was a keen anticipation of the remarkably ven- 
turesome voyage, its risks and rewards. They were about to 
penetrate into the unknown. They were bound on a magnifi- 
cent errand. They had been selected from dozens of other 
young men to perform a signal service for France. They were 
abandoning comparative comfort (food and shelter) for real 
hardships, and comparative safety for certain danger. What 
wonder that Pére Marquette closes an account of their meager 
equipment with these exhilarating words: "We were ready 
to do and surfer everything for so glorious an undertaking." 

As one would expect— even as one would hope— there 
are certain touches in Pére Marquette that place it in the 
ranks of Agnes Repplier's most characteristic work. And 
none is more characteristic than what she has to say con- 
cerning something particularly dear to her heart. Al- 
though scattered here and there throughout the whole 
body of her writings there are occasionai allusions to the 
beneficent eifect of tobacco, it is here in this story of the 
priest of New France that the author writes her fullest 
apostrophe to "My Lady Nicotine:" 

Our debt to the Indians for the discovery and use of tobacco, 
of that inestimable solace in a hard— and sedative in a noisy— 



238 AGNES REPPLIER 

world, is so great that no heart is wide enough to hold it, and 
no words are warm enough to give it proper expression. 
Therefore it is a pleasure to know that to many of these Indians 
the pipe was an august and holy thing, the emblem of ali 
they held hallowed and dear. 

Agnes Repplier found in Pére Marquette a figure emi- 
nently satisfying to her. And in her simple telling of his 
death, to choose but one illustration out of many, the sym- 
pathy she felt for her subject and the art that was by now 
instinct with her combined to produce a singularly mov- 
ing picture: 

On the 18th of May the canoe passed the mouth of a small 
and rapid stream with sloping banks. On the left shore was a 
gentle eminence crowned by oaks. Pére Marquette asked his 
companions to land. His hour had come, and the little hill 
would make a fìtting site for his grave. Quickly they beached 
the canoe, and with the practiced dexterity of woodsmen 
built a shed of saplings, branches, and bark. To this poor shelter 
they carried the dying man, and laid him on a mat by the side 
of a freshly lighted flre. When he had rallied a little he gave 
them a few simple directions for his burial, thanked them for 
the care and devotion they had shown him ("the charities 
which they had exercised in his behalf"), and confessed them 
both— his last priestly function. Then he bade them sleep, say- 
ing he would cali them, or ring his little mass beli, when he 
grew worse. Three hours later they heard the summons and 
hastened to his side. He whispered to one of them to take the 
crucifix from his neck, and hold it before his eyes. Faintly he 
breathed familiar words of prayer: "Sustinuit anima me a in 
verbo ejus" "Mater Dei, memento mei." When he had ceased, 
and the watchers thought the spirit had fled, one of them cried 
in a loud voice, "Jesus, Mary." At the sound of those beloved 
names Pére Marquette's eyes opened wide. Distinctly he re- 
peated them: "Jesus, Mary," and died. 

In Mère Marie of the Ursulines (1931) Agnes Repplier 
wrote the second in the series of three historical biogra- 



AGNES REPPLIER: LITERARY ARTIST 239 

phies of early Catholic figures in America. The stories of 
Mère Marie and Pére Marquette overlap in point of time, 
but the two books present quite dirTerent pictures. Not 
only is this the story of a woman, but its scene is laid al- 
most entirely in the town of Quebec instead of the wilder- 
ness around, for this is a story in part of colonization 
rather than of exploration. 

Mère Marie tells the history of Marie Guyard, who at 
thirty-two, being then a widow with a half-grown son, 
entered the Ursuline convent at her native Tours, and, some 
eight years later, sailed for Quebec where she founded the 
convent for which she is remembered. It is a simple narra- 
tive of hardship, relentless eflort, modest accomplishment, 
undistinguished by any climax in action as was the story of 
Pére Marquette. In one respect only does Mère Marie go 
beyond her fellow pioneer: in 1922 she was declared vener- 
able, the first step toward canonization. 

As was Pére Marquette, this biography is built up with 
supplementary material illuminating its main figure. Thus 
there is a chapter on Saint Ursula, one on Champlain, as 
well as whole sections of other chapters dealing with the 
Indians and the efForts of the missionary priests. And as 
was the case with the former work, here too this additional 
material serves the valuable purpose of reinforcing the 
scene, so that Mère Marie is quite as much a picture of an 
era as is Pére Marquette. But because Mère Marie had been 
granted a longer life than the explorer-priest, and in conse- 
quence a fuller history, there is about this book a greater 
sense of unity, for the surrounding information is as a re- 
sult less extensive. 

The "mysterious music,' ' the "hidden rhythm," of the 
life told in these pages, although related to that of Pére 



240 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Marquette, inasmuch as the overtones are those of the 
Catholic chant, is of a different sort from that found in the 
earlier biography. Mère Marie had in her being the love 
of the unknown that marked Pére Marquette, else she never 
would have been so eager to leave the Ursuline convent at 
Tours, but she was not motivated by this impulse to the 
extent that the priest had been. She was a teacher primarily, 
an organizer of a school that sought to bring the native 
Indians into the church by way of their children. "As Que- 
bec developed," the biographer notes, "Mère Marie's let- 
ters reflect every phase of the development. She writes less 
and less about the things of the spirit, and more and more 
about what is going on around her." Although a mystic, she 
was a distinctly human person. "Her ecstatic piety never 
obliterated her practical qualities," the author states with 
flnality. 

"It is the lamentable habit of hagiographers to exclude 
from their narratives any circumstances which might pos- 
sibly link them with life, to deny to the subjects of their 
pious memoirs any characteristic which savors too strongly 
of humanity. In their desire to be edifying they cease to be 
convincing," Agnes Repplier early declares in her story 
of Mère Marie. Hence with the purpose of giving life to her 
subject clearly defined at the outset, she draws the very 
essence of life into her work and provides a strong and 
unmistakable chain of links between the convent founder 
and the life around her. There is no forgetting here that 
Mère Marie was first and foremost a woman beset by the 
trials of her kind and of her day. "Mère Marie was by na- 
ture a daughter of Mary. Ali mystics are. She would fain 
have sat at the feet of Christ in blissful quiescence and con- 



AGNES REPPLIER: L1TERARY ARTIST 241 

templation. But the role of Martha had been assigned her, 
and she ennobled and sanctified it." 

Mère Marie is not without its glints of characteristic 
Repplierean humor, though quiet f or the most part as beflts 
the occasion. One night in December of 1650 the Ursuline 
convent in Quebec burned to the ground, and the little 
Indian children stood shivering in their night clothes. "The 
nuns," we are told, "were not much better off, though 
some of them had snatched up their cloaks as they fled. 
Mme de la Peltrie [patroness of the convent] made her 
escape in her night dress— 'quite an old worn night dress,' 
observed Mère Marie with regret." Concerning this in- 
formation the biographer comments dryly: "She evidently 
considered that a new one would have been more appro- 
priate to the situation." 

Here and there the book is enlivened by a note of levity 
that would be truly remarkable in many Catholic authors, 
though through the years it had come to be looked upon as 
quite an accepted— almost an expected— mark of Agnes 
Repplier's attitude toward certain aspects of her church. 
The biographer is writing of the Vicar Apostolic and first 
Bishop of New France, a considerable person in the story 
of Mère Marie. "Lavai," she remarks, "the fighting bishop, 
has been pronounced venerable by the Church he served. 
He is en route for sainthood, though outstripped in the 
race by the eight Canadian martyrs who were canonized 
in June, 1930," a neat figure indeed. 

Mère Marie is in several respects a better book than Pére 
Marquette. And this is so not only because the story is in 
itself a rounder, fuller one, a more clearly defined unit. 
This second historical biography takes precedence over the 



242 AGNES REPPLIER 

other because, although the author was in entire sympathy 
with the priest-explorer, she could bring an even deeper 
understanding to the delineation of the nun-teacher. Ali 
writers are in a sense teachers, and the critic even more so 
than most others. The biographer being a woman was bet- 
ter prepared to understand Mère Marie than Pére Mar- 
quette. And being of a criticai turn of mind, she was further 
marked by nature to evaluate Mère Marie's teaching mis- 
sion. Although she could appreciate the wanderlust that 
took Pére Marquette on his journeys into the mapless wil- 
derness, for travel in foreign lands stimulated her im- 
measurably, she was a true explorer in the intellectual sense 
only. Her essential urbanity found far greater appeal in the 
Quebec of Mère Marie, primitive as it no doubt was, than in 
the most thrilling of discoveries drawn from the tangled 
forests of Pére Marquette. If in Pére Marquette Agnes 
Repplier had found a figure satisfying to her, in Mère 
Marie she found another even more satisfying, for Mère 
Marie was in many ways a woman after her own heart. 

Junipero Serra, Pioneer Colonist of California (1933) is 
the third and last volume in Agnes Repplier's historical tril- 
ogy. In this biography the author travels across the country, 
far from the Canada of Pére Marquette and Mère Marie, to 
the distant land claimed by Spain as the other had been 
claimed by France. But although there is a divergence in 
cultures here, and no bond exists between Junipero Serra 
and his fellow colonists such as existed between Pére Mar- 
quette and Mère Marie, the Roman Catholic Church ties 
the three together in one common endeavor and gives a 
certain homogeneity to the group. 



AGNES REPPL1ER: L1TERARY ARTIST 243 

The story of Junipero Serra is that of the founding of 
nine missions in California, dating from the first in 1770 
to the last in 1782. It is the history of an heroic priest who 
ignored his own physical handicaps, combatted the diffi- 
culties raised by rash military incompetents, and toiled un- 
ceasingly in the realization of a dream. It is the history of 
the beginnings of that which has come down to this day as 
an integrai portion of the Spanish survival in California. 

The technique, practiced in Pére Marquette and Mère 
Marie, of supplementing the account of the main figure with 
additional material to produce a full story is carried here 
in this biography somewhat beyond reasonable limits and 
brings about an ultimate effect different from that of the 
other two books. Because Agnes Repplier does go rather 
far afield, as, for example, in the chapter "What Happened 
Afterwards" in which a long recounting of the efforts of 
Russia to take a hand in the development of California is 
given, the "history" of Junipero Serra appears to outweigh 
the "biography," with the result that the book is divided 
against itself . In the final analysis, this is not true biography 
but something lying between biography and history. That 
which had achieved such a neat balance in Mère Marie is 
lost here in Junipero Serra, and consequently the centrai 
personality is submerged almost to the point of being for- 
gotten altogether. 

Just as Pére Marquette and Mère Marie were found to 
have been motivated, the one by the Iure of the unknown 
and the other by the urge to teach, so Junipero Serra has 
his individuai "hidden rhythm." The Majorcan friar moved 
to a "mysterious music" removed in its way from that 



244 AGNES REPPLIER 

which stirred either of the other two. Although he was a 
hundred years closer to the contemporary scene than Mère 
Marie or Pére Marquette, Junipero Serra 

was mediaeval. He had the qualities of those emotional, peni- 
tential, and migratory years, when endurance was the keynote 
of existence, and when the love of life was balanced by the 
honor paid to death. His harsh asceticism, the boards on which 
he slept, his meagre diet, the cruel mortifying of his flesh, ali 
savored of the Middle Ages; and so, too, did his habit of put- 
ting his mind and soul into his work. 

Pére Marquette and Mère Marie had been forward-looking 
persons; Junipero Serra, of the present in his founding of 
the nine missions for the further glory of the Catholic 
Church, sought his inspiration in the past. His ear was at- 
tuned to the muffled, subdued music of a day long since 
gone. 

Here in Junipero Serra Agnes Repplier offers a final note 
on her attitude toward hagiographers and their "pious 



There was something very vital and direct in the relations be- 
tween the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant which 
in the time of Fray Serra clasped hands across the gulf of 
death; something that has faded out of our more complicated 
lives. Cardinal Newman, aware of our loss, said that the fault 
lay with the hagiographers who eliminated every spark of 
humanity from these profoundly human servants of God. 
When a good churchman can write in an ecclesiastical maga- 
zine: "There is no disguising the fact that in general the sane- 
tity of the saints afTrights us, their selflessness fills us with 
self-reproach, their burning charity leaves us cold," we feel 
that Newman's reasoning was just. We cannot blame our- 
selves for this icy remoteness, and we assuredly cannot blame 
the saints. 



AGNES REPPLIER: L1TERARY ARTIST 245 

If in the three biographies, Pére Marquette, Mère Marie, 
Junipero Serra, there is any approach to "icy remoteness," 
it is in this last, though not because Agnes Repplier does 
not labor to make the friar human, but because of the dis- 
tant, unapproachable, unassailable medieval asceticism of 
the man. Of the three closest to us in point of time, Junipero 
Serra is most removed from us in spirit and underlying 
in force. 

Pére Marquette, Mère Marie, and Junipero Serra demon- 
strate Agnes Repplier at her best in biography. Here in 
these three books the artist in her holds with the scholar the 
balance of power, and as a result the biographies are free 
from the extreme of bias that carne to mar much of the 
author's late work. One might have expected that Miss Rep- 
plier, having given herself over in the essay to a kind of 
excess following the First World War, would take advan- 
tage of the one aspect of the lives she was to relate to in- 
dulge in further emphasis of expression. Such would have 
been understandable here inasmuch as religion frequently 
looms particularly large in old age, and Agnes Repplier 
was past seventy when she set out upon the writing of these 
books. But just as an emotional leveling had turned her back 
in the essay to old ways, so a reasonableness governed her 
in the historical biographies. 

Although ali three of these biographies are drawn from 
the Roman Catholic Church, and as such are religious 
books, they are entirely free from any considerations of 
theology. Indeed, every step along the way the author re- 
veals herself as opposed to the common practices of hagiog- 
raphers. As far as church is concerned, save f or a controlied 
yet pronounced sympathy, it is almost as if the Catholic 



246 AGNES REPPL1ER 

part of the picture as such were taken for granted. Part of 
Agnes Repplier's concern here seems to have been to show 
that worthy biographies of church figures could be written 
that would be free from the charge of sanctimoniousness. 
Of the validity of such an opinion she has offered more 
than sufficient proof. That Mère Marie is the most success- 
ful of the three and Junipero Serra the least, is understand- 
able in view of both the material at hand and the qualities 
the author could bring to bear upon it. 

Ili 

"We read The Bostonians and The Rise of Silas Lapham 
with a due appreciation of their minute perfections; but we 
go to bed quite cheerfully at our usuai hour, and are con- 
tent to wait an interval of leisure to resumé them," Agnes 
Repplier wrote in her first volume, Books and Men. And 
she asked: "Could Daisy Miller charm a gouty leg, or 
Lemuel Barker keep us sleepless until morning?" She was 
never to change in her attitude toward Howells, although 
she did in regard to James. Thirty years after her comment 
on The Bostonians and Daisy Miller, Miss Repplier was to 
recognize James as a "great novelist." 

It is not difficult to understand why Agnes Repplier was 
at distinct variance with William Dean Howells, who by 
1888, the date of the public expression of her lack of inter- 
est in him, had become well established both as editor and 
novelist. Howells and realism were synonymous, and the 
essayist at the time found the latter at least "arid and 
dreary." The "democratic theory of art" advocated by 
Howells, with its emphasis upon the middle class, left Agnes 



AGNES REPPLIER: LITERARY ART1ST 247 

Repplier unmoved. An ardent believer in the great individ- 
uai, she could find little sympathy for the average human 
being. 

That Agnes Repplier should profess a keen enjoyment 
over the novels of Dickens, for example, in whose tradition 
Howells belongs, and at the same time profess as great a 
dislike for the later novelist is not the contradiction it may 
at first appear to be. Dickens was English; and with little 
deviation throughout her entire career, she preferred Eng- 
lish authors to American. Furthermore, the time of Dickens' 
novels was just sufficiently removed from her own to lend 
them, in spite of their realism, an aura of the romantic. The 
long ago and far away, particularly when the vista was 
English, prò vide d an irresistible combination for Agnes 
Repplier. 

As far as Howells and his brand of realism is concerned, 
Miss Repplier's opinion of both is not difficult of explana- 
tion. Henry James offers a somewhat more complicated 
problem. It is clear that the early work of the expatriate 
American meant little to the essayist. But as James pro- 
gressed from realist to symbolist, that is, from The Boston- 
iani and Daisy Miller to The Wings of the Dove and The 
Golden Boivl, it may well have been that his appeal grew 
for her. Gide's complaint that James "proceeds through 
subtleties,' , that "his strokes are too fine," certainly would 
not have been hers; nor could James's emphasis upon an 
intellectual approach to character delineation have dis- 
turbed her, though she preferred the novel of incident to 
the novel of character. His position toward America, even 
when finally he renounced his citizenship, did not alienate 






248 AGNES REPPLIER 

her. In the biography of Dr. White she carefully and sym- 
pathetically explains James's feelings in the matter. And 
James is made something of a hero because of his stand. 

Henry James may ha ve paved the way for the "stream 
of consciousness" novel of Virginia Woolf whom Agnes 
Repplier found "thin" and "self-conscious." But it was in 
the late novels of James that his characters became increas- 
ingly introspective; and it was in 1919, long after the ap- 
pearance of The Golden Bouol, that Miss Repplier called 
him "great." It is quite possible that the essayist, unsympa- 
thetic toward the realists generally, took an early dislike to 
James for something of the same reason she took an even 
stronger dislike to Howells: each in his way was an advo- 
cate of realism, and realism at the time was anathema to 
her. Then as she herself, during the period of the First 
World War, arrived at a far more realistic way of looking 
at life, and as she carne to know James personally through 
her friend Dr. White, she found in him a greater artist 
than she had at first suspected. That he had become less 
obviously the realist undoubtedly helped them to meet at 
some point midway between the extremes that for each 
had been a mark of an earlier interest. 

It was inevitable that from the start Agnes Repplier 
should belong outside the literary realm then being charted 
by Howells and James. By nature and training a conserva- 
tive, she resented the intrusion of the new. And when, 
particularly as with Howells, that new was to her mind also 
mundane, she took an even deeper refuge in the old. The 
very fact that, although for twenty years almost in the 
midst of her career she was to concern herself with matters 
both new and mundane, she eventually returned to the old 



AGNES REPPLIER: L1TERARY ARTIST 249 

proves beyond question which in the final analysis had the 
greater attraction for her. 

o o © 

Agnes Repplier chose her "happy half-century," the last 
twenty-five years of the eighteenth century and the first 
twenty-five of the nineteenth, or thereabouts, she said, be- 
cause "it was a time when literary reputations were so 
cheaply gained that nobody needed to despair of one." But 
far more significant to her than this, the happy half-century 
was the time of Johnson and Sheridan, of Wordsworth, 
Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Lamb, Jane Austen, to 
say nothing of the Fanny Burneys, the Hannah Mores, 
and Maria Edgeworths. This was the period dearest to the 
essayist's heart, the period she knew and loved the best. 
This was the period to which she turned again and again 
for inspiration in her essays. 

But Miss Repplier's knowledge of English literature was 
far from limited only to the happy half-century. Her read- 
ing had taken her back to the time of Shakespeare and the 
Elizabethan lyrists and, with the exception of the drama to 
which her essays are for the most part singularly void of 
reference, down to the very days of her eighth decade. Cer- 
tain writers, it is true, received fuller treatment than others, 
as would be expected in an author who had been led more 
by personal taste than by the somewhat sterile attractions 
of purely objective study. But many more than those ap- 
pearing at length in her papers belonged in the lists of the 
elect as far as she was concerned. And even though they 
may not have figured obviously in her work, they were 
dose to her and she to them. 



250 AGNES REPPLIER 

American literature was never the attraction to Agnes 
Repplier that English literature was. In "French Love- 
Songs" she commented: "We are tethered to our kind, and 
the wisest of ali limitations is that which holds us well with- 
in the sphere of naturai and harmonious development." 
Agnes Repplier 's "kind" was, first and foremost, the Eng- 
lish writer and, most of ali, the English writer of her "happy 
half-century." 

This is not to say that the essayist had no knowledge of 
literature outside the English-speaking part of the world, 
f or she had. Greek and Roman writers, from the early days 
of her schooling when she discovered Horace, her favorite 
of them ali, meant much to her. Her very first volume of 
essays, in "Some Aspects of Pessimism," exhibits a consid- 
eratile understanding of classic literature. And one of her 
late papers deals in sympathetic appreciation with the 
Sabine satirist. 

As would be expected of one brought up to a certain 
extent in a French tradition, Agnes Repplier had read con- 
siderably in the literature of that country. But a simple 
comparison of two essays, "French Love-Songs" and "Eng- 
lish Love-Songs," shows unmistakably which was the closer 
to her. 

Russian literature she knew primarily through the work 
of Tolstoi, for whom she had scant love. "Count Tolstoi," 
she wrote in "The Gayety of Life," "has, with the noblest 
intentions, made many a light step heavy, and many a gay 
heart sad." The realism of the Russian was as unappealing 
to her as that of Howells, and the moral uplift supposedly 
to be gained from a reading of the count was to her small 
compensation indeed for the lack of pleasure to be derived 
in the process. 



AGNES REPPL1ER: LITERARY ARTIST 251 

Although one recognizes that Miss Repplier's major pre- 
occupation was with writers of the nineteenth century and 
earlier— inevitable in view of the period to which she be- 
longs— one finds in her later work considerable reference 
to twentieth century authors. Thus in "The Strayed Pro- 
hibitionist" she had this to say of Galsworthy: 

If the young prohibitionist be light-hearted enough to read 
Dickens, or imaginative enough to read Scott, or sardonie 
enough to read Thackeray, he will find everybody engaged 
in the great business of eating and drinking. It crowds love- 
making into a corner, being, indeed, a pleasure which survives 
ali tender dalliance, and restores to the human mind sanity and 
coment. I am convinced that if Mr. Galsworthy's characters 
ate and drank more, they would be less obsessed by sex, and I 
wish they would try dining as a restorative. 

And in "Eight Decades" she wrote of Robert Nathan: 

In those joyous months [that is, when in her first decade she 
had learned to read] which followed my conquest of print 
... I read the books I loved best over and over again. When 
I had finished [The Young Crusaders~] I gave a long sigh, 
turned back to the beginning, and started anew upon its ab- 
sorbing pages. Thank God I have been able to do the same 
thing in my old age, notably with Robert Nathan's "Road of 
Ages," which I re-read instantly while its delicate loveliness 
was fresh in my mind and heart. 

From her very early reading days, the novel held partic- 
ular appeal for Agnes Repplier, and throughout her career 
as essayist she frequently passed judgment upon it as an art 
form. In an essay on "The Novel of Incident" she com- 
mented with striking effect: "For my part, the good novel 
of character is the novel I can always pick up; but the good 
novel of incident is the novel I can ne ver lay down." But, 
both because she essayed the form herself, and with marked 



252 AGNES REPPL1ER 

success, and because her reading in the f orm was even more 
extensive than in the novel, the biography is given fuller 
consideration than any other single literary type. André 
Maurois's dieta on biography she quoted with approvai in 
Pére Marquette, and there too as well as in Mère Marie and 
Junipero Serra, she offered comment at length on hagiogra- 
phy, a division, so to speak, of the larger forni. Elsewhere 
throughout her essays one finds many telling remarks that 
reveal clearly the writer's various criteria where biography 
is concerned. But it is in one of her journals that Agnes 
Repplier gives what might be considered the key to good 
biography as she saw it when she wrote, along with a num- 
ber of damaging quotations concerning Strachey, "The 
amazing and unconcerned inaccuracies of the modem biog- 
rapher." Realism— in the novel, for example— annoyed her 
because too often the realist emphasized the grubby and 
the completely dull either for the sake of a "photographic 
likeness" or, what to her was worse, for didactic purposes. 
But in biography she insisted upon exactness and would 
admit of neither flights of f ancy parading as f act nor of the 
glittering generalization. 

From ali this, however, it would be a mistake to conclude 
that Miss Repplier was free from any limitations as a critic. 
She was not. And the principal source of her limitation 
was an undeniable love for phrase-making, the Iure of the 
neat remark even on occasion at the cost of her equally un- 
deniably good "reading sense." Nowhere is this fault more 
obvious than in her war-provoked essay "Waiting," in 
which she deliberately misread Longfellow's "Psalm of 
Life" for mere effect: 



AGNES REPPLIER: UTERARY ART1ST 253 

In the most esteemed of his advisory poems, Mr. Longfellow 
recommends his readers to be "up and doing," and at the same 
time learn "to labour and to wait." Having, ali of us, imbibed 
these sentiments in their harmonious setting when we were at 
school, we have, ali of us, endeavored for many months to put 
such conflicting precepts into practice. Mr. Longfellow, it 
will be remembered, gave precedence to his "up and doing 
line;" but this may have been due to the exigencies of verse. 

The essayist was angry and bitter at the time over what 
appeared to her and many of her pro-British friends to be 
the cowardly delaying of the United States to enter the 
conflict. But here in this essay she was most certainly guilty 
of a lack of f airness for which she would as certainly have 
taken any other writer at any other time to severe task. 

o o o 

In her essay "Wit and Humor" Agnes Repplier defines 
these two oft-confused manners, both of which mark much 
of her writing, though of the two, the f ormer is more prom- 
inent. It is to be expected that in the work of this writer, 
fundamentally the intellectual, wit should play a larger 
part than humor. On occasion, it is true, humor is her spe- 
cial interest. Thus in "Humor: English and American' ' and 
"The Mission of Humor" she deals with this form at some 
length. And, incidentally, it is interesting to note that in the 
latter essay, written some eighteen years after the former, 
the author is far less favorably inclined toward the Amer- 
ican brand than she is toward the English. It is equally 
curious that in the earlier paper, coming at a time when 
nearly ali things English seemed the brightest the world 
had to offer, the essayist favored the American to the Eng- 



254 AGNES REPPL1ER 

lish. Frequently when one thinks he has the writer neatly 
pigeonholed in one regard or another, some contradiction 
or near contradiction disrupts ali patent pian. 

Agnes Repplier's wit, demonstrated so ably and so often 
in her essays, defìes cataloguing as successfully as do on 
occasion her varying points of view. Sometimes, as in 
"What Children Read," it is the result of a skillful use of 
incongruity alone. The writer is complaining in this paper 
of the ridiculous fare of the modem child-reader, lamenting 
that the old books of worth have been replaced by present- 
day twaddle: 

"How much of our poetry," it has been asked, "owes its start 
to Spenser, when the Fairy Queen was a household book, and 
lay in the parlor window-seat? " . . . We know that in the 
window-seat of Cowley's mother's room lay a copy of the 
Fairy Queen, which to her little son was a source of unfail- 
ing delight, and Pope has recorded the ecstasy with which, as 
a lad, he pored over this wonderful poem; but then neither 
Cowley nor Pope had the advantage of following Oliver 
Optic through the slums of New York, or living with some 
adventurous "boy hunters" in the jungles of Central Africa. 

Or again, as in "The Beloved Sinner," the main thesis of 
which is that "Ali the world does not love a lo ver . . . But 
ali the world does love a sinner," Miss Repplier's wit results 
from a blend of the incongruous with something else. Here, 
as elsewhere in her writings, the ridiculousness of a situa- 
tion or idea is revealed, not only by a deft use of the incon- 
gruous, but also by the simple expedient of applying merci- 
less logie to that which usually receives some other, gener- 
ally sentimental, handling. In "The Beloved Sinner" the 
essayist direets her wit at the misguided public that would 
sympathize, not with the victim, but with the victimizer. 



AGNES REPPLIER: LITERARY ARTIST 255 

Frequently Miss Repplier makes use of a kind of exag- 
geration that is the result of logie applied in a difTerent di- 
rection. In such instances, cold reason plus exaggeration 
is used to prick a bubble, a bubble that itself is evidence of 
exaggeration. In The Fireside Sphinx she tells of a wonder- 
ful cat that belonged to a Scotch friend of hers, a cat that 
was in the habit of eating the sparrows that carne to feed 
upon the crumbs its owner tossed from the dining-room 
window. In order to circumvent the cat, the Scotchman 
stopped scattering the crumbs, whereupon the astute 
animai stole a roll from the breakfast table, thus providing 
its own bait for the unwary birds. This is the tali story; and 
this her comment: "It only remains to be told that [the 
cat] first baked the bread, and this veracious chronicle will 
be complete." 

"If men of real wit ha ve been more numerous in the 
world than men of real humor, it is because discernment 
and lenity, mirth and conciliation, are qualities which do not 
blend easily with the naturai asperity of our race," Agnes 
Repplier wrote in "Wit and Humor." And she recognized 
the further fact that "edged tools are dangerous things to 
handle, and not infrequently do much hurt." In her essays 
written during and for some years after the period of the 
First World War, Miss Repplier resorted to wit of a far 
more biting sort than that which distinguishes the larger 
part of her writings. Aroused by American indifference, 
later somewhat embittered by American foolishness, she 
forgot her sense of humor in an almost relentless display 
of wit. The essays of this period so marked are in a sense 
uncomfortable essays, verging on the irritable and peevish. 
Sarcasm replaced satire, and the earlier good humor was cast 



256 AGNES REPPLIER 

aside. "Few things in the world are more wearying than a 
sarcastic attitude towards life," the essayist had written 
years before the conflict. And the truth of her assertion, 
because the assertion itself was unfortunately forgotten, 
was largely borne out as a result of the disrupting effect of 
the war upon her. 

It is not every writer who appreciates the usefulness and 
true worth of the neatly turned phrase as does Agnes Rep- 
plier. Early in her career she confessed to valuing form 
over coment. And if on occasion she allowed the former to 
wield too obvious a control over the latter for the sake of 
efTect alone, when the full scope of her work is taken into 
account, the occasions are slight indeed. "There are many 
who affirm that the humorist's point of view is, on the 
whole, the fair est from which the world can be judged. It 
is equally remote from the misleading side-lights of the 
pessimist and from the wilful blindness of the optimist. It 
sees things with uncompromising clearness, but it judges 
of them with tolerance and good temper." Although, 
strictly speaking, one cannot class Miss Repplier as a hu- 
morist, she was endowed with the "humorist's point of 
view," and for the most part it did indeed allow her to see 
"things with uncompromising clearness" and to "judge of 
them with tolerance and good temper." 

ODO 

Some critics have passed judgment upon Agnes Repplier 
to the effect that her work shows little more than assimila- 
tion, that she merely gathered appropriate ideas and quo- 
tations together and made her essays out of her gleanings. 
She herself, amused by the idea, remarked lightly: "Why 



AGNES REPPLIER: L1TERARY ARTIST 257 

should I do the writing when there was someone else to do 
it for me?" But there is far more to the matter than just that. 
It is true that some assimilation does not create; but it is 
equally true that, on the other hand, some does. And Agnes 
Repplier's is certainly of the latter kind. Out of her gather- 
ings of material, both ideas and quotations, she invariably 
made something new, something, furthermore, that was 
given additional interest and worth by the way in which 
she presented it. 

Although in the essays of the war period and immediately 
following Miss Repplier turned aside from the main current 
of her inspiration— though the means of expression remained 
almost of Constant excellence— essentially she was not inter- 
ested in the kind of writing, be it poetry or prose, that, 
parading as art, existed for some ulterior purpose. For the 
essayist, art was first and foremost a source of pleasure. 
"Any book which serves to lower the sum of human gayety 
is a moral delinquent," she wrote in "A Plea for Humor." 
And again: "Art is never didactic, does not take kindly to 
facts, is helpless to grapple with theories, and is killed out- 
right by a sermon." It is for this reason that Tolstoi meant 
no more to her than he did. "The hundred and one excellent 
reasons for becoming acquainted with Tolstoi or Ibsen," 
she wrote in "Literary Shibboleths," "resolve themselves 
into a single motive when we turn to Scott. It is 'for human 
delight' or nothing." 

Agnes Repplier never offered any justification of or ex- 
planation for her abandoning the principle of pleasure for 
the didactically purposeful essays of the war period. Patent- 
ly she felt no explanation was necessary. The war itself was 
sufficient justification. But some among her friends felt that 



258 AGNES REPPL1ER 

she "burned herself out" in the white heat of her propa- 
gandist vehemence. They were of the opinion that she never 
fully recovered from the devastation her excess of vituper- 
ation worked upon her. Happily To Think of Tea! and 
In Pursuit of Laughter as well as the historical biographies 
stand as ampie refutation of such a contention. 

ODO 

In one of her journals Miss Repplier quotes T. S. Eliot as 
having said that "he does not believe that 'Marius the Epi- 
curean' has influenced a single flrst-rate mind or a later 
generation," to which she added, "As he did mine." And 
in her paper on Pater's book she wrote that the lesson it 
teaches is "to help us to be as happy as we can, by increas- 
ing and refining our sensations, by identifying ourselves 
with every form of beauty, and by opening our hearts 
freely to ali high emotions." The essayist was indeed a lo ver 
of beauty. No further proof is necessary than is to be found 
in what she wrote of the Elizabethan lyric, revealing as it 
does a sensitivity to beauty exquisitely expressed, though 
further proof there is to be found in plenty. In her essay 
"On the Benefits of Superstition" she declared that "beauty 
is one of the tonics now most earnestly recommended to 
our sick souls." And in "Curiosities of Criticism" she tied 
her criticai credo in with beauty and wisdom. "Criticism," 
she wrote in that paper, "does not mean a random opinion 
on the last new novel, though even the most dismal of light 
literature comes fairly within its scope. It means a disinter- 
ested endeavor to learn and to teach whatever wisdom or 
beauty has been added by every age and every nation to the 
great inheritance of mankind." Wisdom and beauty blended 



AGNES REPPLIER: L1TERARY ART1ST 259 

in the criticai approach to life and literature is the essence 
of the writings of Agnes Repplier save when the First 
World War led her into a foreign and not altogether con- 
genial field. 

In her essay "Words" Miss Repplier wrote: 

The felicitous choice of words, which with most writers is 
the result of severe study and unswerving vigilance, seems with 
a favored few— who should be envied and not imitated— to be 
the genuine fruit of inspiration, as though caprice itself could 
not lead them far astray. Shelley's letters and prose papers 
teem with sentences in which the beautiful words are sufficient 
satisfaction in themselves, and of more value than the conclu- 
sions they reveal. They have a haunting sweetness, a pure per- 
fection, which makes the act of reading them a sustained and 
dulcet pleasure. Sometimes this effect is produced by a few 
simple terms reiterated into lingering music. "We are born, 
and our birth is unremembered, and our infancy remembered 
but in fragments; we live on, and in living we lose the ap- 
prehension of life." Sometimes a clearer note is struck with the 
sure and delicate touch which is the excellence of art. "For 
the mind in creation is as a fading coal, which some invisible 
influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory 
brightness." The substitution of the word "glow" for "bright- 
ness" would, I think, make this sentence extremely beautiful. 

This, then, the effect of words upon the essayist, this in 
evidence of the attention she paid to the nuances of lan- 
guage. And this the brief summation of the whole matter: 
"Every word misused revenges itself forever upon a writer's 
reputation." 

To Agnes Repplier, style in writing was preéminent. 
"The stern labour of the file" was one of her favorite 
phrases, and in a letter to her friend Mrs. Warren, wherein 
it is to be found, she emphasized the fact that the study of 
words, of styles, of means and manners of expression had 



260 AGNES REPPLIER 

been a life-long work with her. It is for this very reason 
that, even though on occasion one may not agree with 
what the writer has to say, seldom indeed can one argue 
over the way in which it has been said. It is for this very 
reason that Miss Repplier was able to interest a host of 
readers in matters long considered dead, and in the byways 
of history and literature. 

ODO 

This, then, is almost the entire picture. It remains but to 
point again to her liberal-conservative attitude, to her ex- 
tensive knowledge, to her attitude on intolerance. By train- 
ing, both that which had been self-imposed and that the 
result of her schooling, and by nature a lover of funda- 
mentals, Miss Repplier sought the very basis of things for 
her consideration of any question. Her Catholic education 
gave her an insight into matters frequently unknown or 
misunderstood by non-Catholic writers. And her wide read- 
ing in the world at large gave her a firm footing beyond the 
conflnes of her religion. 

Possessing such a solid foundation on which to build, the 
essayist, save in some of those papers directly efTected by 
the First World War, seldom demonstrates more than a 
completely justifiable intolerance. In "The Strayed Prohibi- 
tionist," for example, she is wrathful over what she felt was 
an infringement upon her personal rights. Law-made crime 
was not crime as she saw it. Independent ali her life, she 
would not have others teli her what she should eat and 
drink, and she was of the strong opinion that those who 
felt that such indeed was not only their privilege but their 
right were guilty of an intolerance incompatible with prop- 



AGNES REPPL1ER: LITERARY ARTIST 261 

er freedom. The only intolerance with which she could 
sympathize was that directed against stupidity and sham. 
Guilty of neither fault herself , she saw no reason f or allow- 
ing or condoning them in others. 

But current topics, no matter how ardently discussed for 
the moment, were not Agnes Repplier's real interest. The 
written word alone she allowed to dominate her life. 
"When the standard of criticism is high, when the influence 
of classical and foreign literature is understood and appre- 
ciated, when slovenly and ill-digested work is promptly 
recognized as siich, then, and then only, may we look for 
the full expansion of a country's genius. To be satisfied 
with less is an amiable weakness rather than an invigorating 
stimulant to perfection." This was the admirable creed to 
which Agnes Repplier showed admirable devotion through 
sixty years and more of Constant labor. Weaknesses, amiable 
or otherwise, were not for her. 



NOTES 

oooooooooooooooooooooooo 

Chapter I 

Page 5: Biographical sketch: See Agnes Repplier's letter to 

Harrison Morris, p. 115. 
Page 9: "Wagner is thundered . . . ": Letter to Mrs. Schuyler 

Neilson Warren. Sept. 21, 1913 (Philadelphia). 
Page 11: "I learned my . . . ": Points of Vieti?, pp. 65-67. 
Page 14: "When I was . . . ": /. William White, M.D., p. 3. 
Page 14: "Once more I . . . ": Essays in Idleness, pp. 48-49. 
Page 14: "Having never been . . . ": lbid., p. 50. 

Chapter II 

Page 21: "At that Spartan . . . ": In Our Convent Days, 

pp. 2-3. 
Page 21: "Those little imps . . . ": Eight Decades, p. 7. 
Page 21: "No one had . . . ": In Our Convent Days, p. 107. 
Page 22: "Then, over an . . . ": lbid, pp. 165-66. 
Page 28: "The scene was ... ": lbid., pp. 70-71. 
Page 31: "Frances was first . . . ": Ibid.,ip. 114. 
Page 36: "On one occasion . . . ": Agnes Irwin, p. 20. 
Page 36: "A clever little . . . ": lbid., p. 18. 

Chapter III 

Page 50: "If form was . . . ": See letter to Harrison Morris, 

p. 116. 
Page 52: "Of ali the ... ": Letter to Harrison Morris. March 

17, 1937 (Philadelphia). 
Page 55: "I am glad . . . ": Letter to Harrison Morris. March 

19, 1895 (Rome). 

263 



264 AGNES REPPLIER 

Page 58: "About July 1884 . . . ": In Celestial Homespun, 
The Life of Isaac Thomas Hecker (New York, 1943), 
Katherine Burton gives an account of this meeting. The 
date is said to be 1877. However, Miss Repplier said the 
meeting carne after she had published for some time in 
the Catholic World, and it would seem reasonable that 
the meeting took place immediately before the publica- 
tion of the paper on Ruskin (1884), not seven years before 
as would be the case according to Miss Burton. It might 
be noted also that in Celestial Homespun Agnes Repplier's 
age is given as twenty in 1877. Actually she was twenty- 
two at that date. 

Page 59: "The first criticism . . . ": Catholic World, XC 
(Nov. 1909), 172-74. 

Page 62: "At the risk . . . ": Ibid., pp. 172-73. 

Chapter IV 

Page 67: "Mary and I . . . ": Letter to Harrison Morris. Feb. 
3, 1892 (Philadelphia). 

Chapter V 
Page 87: "It was said . . . ": Eight Decades, pp. 13-14. 

Chapter VI 

Page 100: "After French, Dutch . . . ": Letter to Harrison 
Morris. Aug. 16, 1890 (London). 

Chapter VII 

Page 120: "He bade me . . . ": Eight Decades, p. 21. 

Page 125: "Miss Repplier's function . . . ": Chap Book, VII 

(Nov. 1, 1897), 478. 
Page 125: "It has insight . . . ": Critic, N. S., XXIX (Jan. 15, 

1898), 42-43. 

Chapter Vili 

Page 129: "There is something . . . ": Eight Decades, pp. 

294-95. 
Page 139: "Once, long ago . . . ": Ibid., pp. 304-5. 



NOTES 265 

Chapter IX 

Page 144: "We have invited . . . ": From the records of the 

Secretary of the University of Pennsylvania. 
Page 149: "The one book . . . ": See p. 63. 

Chapter X 

Page 157: "For distinguished achievements . . . ": In the 
Warren letter collection. (March 25, 1911.) 

Chapter XIII 

Page 205: "history written by . . . ": Catholic World, CXXIX 

(Aprii 1929), 116. 
Page 205: "The Catholic book-shelf . . . ": Commonweal, IX 

(Feb. 13, 1929), 434. 
Page 205: "Everything that discriminating . . . ": New York 

Herald Tribune Books, V (Jan. 13, 1929), 2. 
Page 206: "a trifle bewildering . . . ": Eight Decades, p. 41. 
Page 207: "She sent word . . . ": Ibid., p. 40. 
Page 211: "Those who . . . ": Catholic World, CXXXV 

(Aprii 1932), 120. 
Page 211: "The shade of . . . ": Saturday Review of Litera- 

ture, Vili (Jan. 2, 1932), 431. 
Page 211: "Miss Repplier's precision . . . ": New York Her- 
ald Tribune Books, Vili (Nov. 29, 1931), 12. 
Page 214: "a labor of . . . ": Nation, CXXXVII (Nov. 29, 

1933), 627. 
Page 214: "a noble [biography] . . . ": Commonweal, XIX 

(Dee. 22, 1933), 222. 
Page 214: "demonstrates once again . . . ": Saturday Review 

of Literature, X (Dee. 23, 1933), 369. 
Page 217: "no dry and . . . ": From the publisher's notice. 
Page 218: "has something to . . . ": Commonweal, XXVII 

(Dee. 31, 1937), 276. 
Page 218: "learning leaves us . . . ": Yale Review, N.S., 

XXVI (March 1937), 602. 
Page 219: "My aunt, Agnes . . . ": This Is My Best, Whit 

Burnett, ed. (New York, 1942), p. 657. 



266 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Chapter XIV 

Page 224: "Never has a . . . ": Poems of Friction, p. 182. 
Page 224: "The girl who . . . ": Points of View, p. 209. 
Page 225: "There is a . . . ": Compromises, p. 22. 
Page 226: "Sixty-two years ago . . . ": Times and Tendencies, 

pp. 73-74. 
Page 246: "Thirty years after . . . ": /. William White, 

M.D., p. 118. 
Page 246: "arid and dreary": Essays in Miniature, p. 121. 
Page 246: "The 'democratic theory . . . ": Arthur Hobson 

Quinn, American Fiction (New York, 1936), p. 273. 
Page 247: "proceeds through subtleties . . . ": The Question 

of Henry James, F. W. Dupee, ed. (New York, 1945), 

p. 252. 
Page 248: "thin and self-conscious . . . ": Agnes Repplier's 

Journal. In the Library of the University of Pennsylvania. 
Page 256: "Few things in the world . . . ": Essays in Idleness, 

p. 181. 
Page 256: "There are many . . . ": Americans and Others, p. 

32. 
Page 261: "When the standard . . . ": Books and Meri, p. 

154. 



Bibliography 



oooooooooooooooooooooooo 

Published Books: 

Agnes Irwin. New York, 1934. 

Americans and Others. Boston, 1912. 

A Book of Famous Verse. Boston, 1892. (Editor) 

Books and Men. Boston, 1888. 

Compromises. Boston, 1904. 

Counter-Currents. Boston, 1916. 

Eight Decades: Essays and Episodes. Boston, 1937. 

Essays in Idleness. Boston, 1893. 

Essays in Miniature. Boston, 1892. 

The Fireside Sphinx. Boston, 1901. 

Germany and Democracy, the Re al Issue, the Views of Two 

Average Americans, a Reply to Doctor Dernburg. Phila- 

delphia, 1914. (With J. W. White) 
A Happy Half-Ce?itury, and Other Essays. Boston, 1908. 
In Our Convent Days. Boston, 1905. 
In Fursuit of Laughter. Boston, 1936. 
In the Dozy Hours and Other Papers. Boston, 1894. 
Junipero Serra, Pioneer Colonist of California. New York, 

1933. 
/. William White, M.D.; a Biography. Boston, 1919. 
Mère Marie of the Ursulines; a Study in Adventure. New 

York, 1931. 
Pére Marquette; Priest, Pioneer and Adventurer. New York, 

1929. 
Philadelphia, the Place and the People. New York, 1898. 
Points of Friction. Boston, 1920. 
Points of Vienjo. Boston, 1889. 

267 



268 AGNES REPPL1ER 

Times and Tendencies. Boston, 1931. 
To Think of Tea! Boston, 1932. 
Under Dispute. Boston, 1924. 
Varia. Boston, 1897. 

Manuscript Collections: 

The Mrs. Schuyler Neilson Warren Letter Collection. 
The Harrison Morris Letter Collection. 
Two Journals kept by Agnes Repplier, now in the posses- 
sion of the Library of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Periodical Writings: 

An extensive bibliography, compiled by the biographer, of 
the periodical writings of Agnes Repplier, as well as re- 
views and criticisms of her work, is on deposit with the 
Library of the University of Pennsylvania. 



Index 



OOOODOOOOOOOOOOOODOOOODO 



"Accursed Annual, The," 152 
"Actor and Audience," 226 
Addams, Jane, 159, 160, 163, 171 
Agnes Irivin, 234 
Agrippina, 129-34, 139, 140 
Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 78, 85, 86 
Aldrich, Mrs. Thomas Bailey, 86 
Alfonso, King of Spain, 207, 208 
"Allegra," 147, 218, 223 
"American Credo, The," 209 
"American Essay in Wartime, 

The," 186 
"Americanism," 177 
Americans and Others, 160, 161 
Angeli, Norman, 182, 183 
"Apostle of Doubt, An," 61, 62 
"Are Americans a Timid People," 

195 
Arnold, Matthew, 161 
Art Alliance (Philadelphia) , 194 
"Aspects of the European War at 

Close Range," 182 
Astor, Lady, 122 
Atlantic Monthly, 52, 55, 69, 70, 

71, 77, 78, 80, 81, 82, 84, 92, 

94, 103, 104, 107, 110, 115, 118, 

149, 150, 160, 162, 163, 170, 171, 

175, 177, 200, 217, 219 
Austen, Jane, 122, 249 
Authors' League, 180 

Baedeker, 121 
Balcarras, Lady, 79 
Barbauld, Mrs., 79, 115 
Beaconsfield, Lord, 81 
Beaux, Cecilia, 166 



"Beloved Sinner, The," 190, 193, 

254 
Besant, Annie, 163 
Blue Book of Poetry, 119 
Book Buyer, 116, 117 
Book News Monthly, 115 
Book of Famous Verse, A, 109, 

110, 118 
Books and Men, 93, 94, 105, 170, 

220, 221, 246 
"Books That Have Hindered Me," 

103 
"Books Which Have Helped Me," 

103 
Boone, Agnes (Agnes Klots), 111, 

117, 121, 122 
Boone, Sarah (Mrs. Spalding Jen- 

kins), 111, 117, 121, 122, 127 
Booth, Edwin, 158 
Boston, Transcript, 215 
Bostonians, The, 246, 247 
Brieux, Eugène, 171, 172 
Brinley, Charles, 144, 145 
"Brothers Housman, The," 219 
Browning Society (Philadelphia), 

101 
Bryan, William Jennings, 179, 180 
Burke, Father, 158 
Burney, Fanny, 152, 249 
Byron, George Gordon, Lord, 14, 

29, 147, 249 

"Cakes and Ale," 126 
Campbell, Thomas E., 206 
Carlyle, Thomas, 121 
Catholic Book Club, 212 



269 



270 



AGNES REPPL1ER 



Catholic World, 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 

61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 70, 75, 82, 94, 

103, 149, 150, 158, 224 
"Cavalier, The," 82, 224 
Cavanaugh, John, 157 
Chase, Mary Ellen, 218 
Chateaubriand, Francois, 79 
Chesterton, Gilbert K., 163 
Childe Harold, 29, 37 
"Children, Past and Present," 77, 

79, 80, 81, 105, 118 
Childs, George W., 106 
"Chili of Enthusiasm, The," 161 
"Christianity and War," 178 
Chronicles (Froissart), 126 
Church of St. John the Evangelist, 

5, 55, 91, 141, 216 
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 249 
Columbia University, 199, 215 
Compromises, 147, 148 
"Condescension of Borrowers, 

The," 161 
"Consolations of the Conserva- 
tive," 193 
Contemporary Club (Philadel- 

phia), 101, 102, 103, 145, 182, 

194, 229 
Convent of the Sacred Heart 

(Eden Hall), 11, 18, 19, 20-32, 

33, 34, 37, 39, 41, 111, 149, 208, 

234 
Coolidge, Calvin, 198, 206 
"Cost of Modem Sentiment, The," 

163, 164 
Counter-Currents, 177, 180, 190, 

233 
Cowper, William, 122 
"Cruelty and Humor," 187 
"Cure-Alls," 209 
"Curiosities of Criticism," 81 
"Customary Correspondent, The," 

161 



Daisy Miller, 246 



"Deathless Diary, The," 125 
"Decay of Sentiment, The," 82 
Deland, Margaret, 215 
Dernburg, Dr., 174 
Dickens, Charles, 104, 247 
"Divineness of Discontent, The," 

196, 197 
Don Juan, 29, 30 
Du Guesclin, Bertrand, 79 

Eakins, Thomas, 106 
Eden Hall. See Convent of the Sa- 
cred Heart 
Edgeworth, Maria, 13, 79, 249 
Eight Decades, 218, 221, 234, 251 
Eliot, George, 104 
Eliot, T. S., 258 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 196 
"English Love-Songs," 105, 126, 

250 
Essays in Idleness, 112, 114, 115, 

124 
Essays in Miniature, 109, 110 
"Estranging Sea, The," 161, 227 
"Eternai Feminine, The," 125, 222 

Faust (Hayward), 13 
"Fiction in the Pulpit," 104 
Fireside Sphinx, The, 134, 135, 141, 

212, 213, 217, 222, 255 
Francke, Kuno, 182, 183 
Frederick the Great, 121 
Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins, 87, 215 
"French Love-Songs," 250 
Frothingham, Cornelia, 144, 145, 

147, 157, 162, 167 
Furness, Horace Howard, 102, 104, 

106, 107, 108, 134-38, 143, 160, 

167, 176, 202 
Furness, William, Rev., 107 

Galsworthy, John, 251 
Garland, Hamlin, 194 
"Gayety of Life, The," 147, 229, 
250 



INDEX 



271 



Germany and Democracy, 173, 

174, 175 
Gide, André, 247 
Golden Bowl, The, 247, 248 
Goncourt, Edmond de, 224 
"Good Humor of the Saints, The," 

57, 61, 64 
Gray, Thomas, 122 
"Greatest of These Is Charity, 

The," 161 
"Grocer's Cat, The," 161 

"Happiness of Writing an Autobi- 

ography, The," 195, 198 
Happy Haìf-Century, A, 128, 151, 

155, 211 
Harper's Magazine, 77 
Haweis, Hugh Reginald, Rev., 62 
Hecker, Isaac Thomas (Father 

Hecker), 53, 58, 60, 64, 65, 67, 

94 
Herrick, Robert, 122 
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 192 
Horace, 43, 219, 250 
Howe, Julia Ward, 88, 167 
Howells, William Dean, 104, 246, 

247, 248, 250 
"Humor: English and American," 

253 
Hunt, Leigh, 115 

Ibero-American International Ex- 
position, 198, 199, 204, 206 

"Idolatrous Dog, The," 195 

"In Arcady," 54, 55, 64 

In Our Convent Days, 26, 149, 150, 
221, 225, 234 

In Pursuit of Laughter, 217, 218, 
221, 258 

In the Dozy Hours, 122, 123 

Irwin, Agnes, 33-41, 43, 52, 58, 71, 
72, 73, 78, 84, 86, 95, 97, 98, 
107, 108, 118, 169, 170, 175, 176, 
179, 184, 200, 201, 208, 217, 231, 
232, 234, 235 



Irwin School, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 

42, 234 
Irwin, Sophy, 175, 176 

James, Henry, 102, 246, 247, 248 
Jastrow, Morris, 74, 95, 131 
Jewett, Sarah Orne, 87 
Johnson, Samuel, 57, 64, 189, 249 
"Joost van den Vondel," 76 
Junipero Serra, 214, 233, 242-46, 

252 
Jusserand, Jean Jules, 168 
/. William White, 190, 234, 235 

Keats, John, 37, 67, 122, 249 
Kellogg Pact, 209 
Kempis, Thomas a, 57 

Laetare Medal, 157, 199 
Lamb, Charles, 115, 122 
Lang, Andrew, 110, 118, 120 
"Last Pages in the Journal of Ève 

de la Tour D'Arraine," 56, 57, 

64 
League of Nations, 180, 194, 195, 

209 
"Lectures," 122 
Lee, Robert E., 15 
"Leisure," 114 

Leland, Charles Godfrey, 52, 69 
Library Company of Philadelphia, 

52 
Life, 109 

Lincoln, Abraham, 15, 16 
Lippincott's Magazine, 73, 82, 142, 

148 
Literary Guild of America, 212 
"Literary Lady, The," 222 
"Literary Shibboleths," 105 
"Living in History," 190, 193 
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 

192 
Lowell, James Russell, 88, 89, 90 



272 



AGNES REPPLIER 



'Luxury of Conversation, The," 
148 



182-85, 193, 194, 195, 198-203, 
205 



Macmillan Company, The, 124, 233 

McShain, Father, 204 

Manfred, 29 

"Marianus," 149 

Marie, Queen of Rumania, 207 

"Marius the Epicurean," 82, 83 

Marquette, Pére Jacques, 204, 225, 

227, 236, 238-40, 242-44 
"Marriage in Fiction," 147 
Martineau, Harriet, 79 
Marvell, Andrew, 122 
"Masterful Puritan, The," 196, 197, 

218 
Maurois, André, 252 
Mère Marie, 212, 225, 227, 239-44 
Mère Marie of the Ursulines, 212, 

233, 238, 239, 241-43, 245, 246, 

252 
Meynell, Alice, 164, 165 
Mill, John Stuart, 79 
Miscellany (Chambers), 29, 38 
"Mischief in the Middle Ages," 69 
"Mission of Humor, The," 150, 

161, 253 
Missionary Priests of St. Paul the 

Apostle (Paulist Order), 53, 

54 
Mitchell, S. Weir, 106, 107, 108, 

167, 176 
Mitchell, Mrs. S. Weir, 98 
"Modem Word-Parsimony," 82, 83 
"Money," 187 

Montague, Mary Wortley, 79, 152 
Montmirail, Marquise de, 79 
Moore, George, 104 
More, Hannah, 152, 249 
Moore, Thomas, 153 
Morris, Harrison, 73, 74, 92, 93, 95, 

99, 100, 101, 102, 105, 109-17, 

119, 120, 124, 127, 131, 135, 142, 

143, 146, 147, 149, 156, 162, 



Nathan, Robert, 251 

National Institute of Arts and Let- 
tere, 74, 199, 215 

National Institute of Social Sci- 
ences, 162 

Nero, 130 

"Nervous Strain, The," 161 

Newman, John Henry, 57, 100 

Newton, A. Edward, 189, 190, 200- 
203, 213 

Nogent, Guibert de, 79, 118, 119 

Notre Dame University, 157, 199, 
215 

"Novel of Incident, The," 251 

"Novelist, The," 152 

"Novelist in the Pulpit, The," 104 

"Old Wine and New," 126 

"On the Beneflts of Superstition," 

81, 258 
"Our Great-Grandmother," 152 

Pankhurst, Mrs., 166 

Pater, Walter, 258 

Paulist Order. See Missionary 

Priests of St. Paul the Apostle 
"Peace and the Pacifist," 208, 209, 

232 
Penn Publishing Company, 194 
Pennell, Joseph, 70, 71, 187, 188 
Pennell, Mrs. Joseph. See Robins, 

Elizabeth 
Pere Marquette, 204, 212, 233, 

235-37, 239, 241-43, 245, 252 
Fhiladelphia, 123 

Philadelphia General Hospital, 185 
Philadelphia Orchestra, 9 
Philadelphia Sunday Times, 48 
Philothea Society, 150, 151 
"Pietist, The," 224 
"Pilgrim's Staff, The," 224 



INDEX 



273 



Platt, Christine, 173 

Plays and Players Club (Philadel- 

phia), 172 
"Plea for Humor, A," 104 
"Pleasures of Possession, The," 210 
Foints of Friction, 190, 192, 193 
Points of Vieiv, 103, 105, 110 
"Popular Education," 181, 182 
"Preacher at Large, The," 195 
Princeton University, 199, 214, 215 
"Privilege of Being Murdered, 

The," 186 

"Question of Politeness, A," 227 
Quinet, Madame, 79 

Reade, Charles, 104 
Reading Without Tears, 12, 103 
Reliques (Bishop Percy), 13 
"Repeal of Reticence, The," 170, 

171, 181, 182 
Repplier, Charles, 4 
Repplier, Frank, 74, 75, 104 
Repplier, George, 4, 74 
Repplier, Jacob Lancaster, 5, 8, 15, 

215 
Repplier, John, 17, 18 
Repplier, John George, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 

15, 16, 45, 46, 50, 68, 73, 91 
Repplier, John George, Jr., 5, 8 
Repplier, Mrs. John George 

(Agnes Mathias), 2, 3, 6, 7, 

9-15, 17, 18, 23, 32, 41, 43, 45, 

46, 47, 53, 54, 55, 58, 97 
Repplier, Mrs. John George 

(Mary McGauley), 5 
Repplier, Joseph, 4 
Repplier, Louis, 7, 10, 32, 45, 46, 

73, 184, 185, 215, 216 
Repplier, Mary ("Teedie"), 6-10, 

18, 32, 45, 46, 51, 99, 109 
Repplier, Sidney J., 215 
"Resistance," 193 
Retord, Abbé, 57 



"Reviewers and Reviewed," 123 
Robins, Elizabeth (Mrs. Joseph 

Pennell), 2, 24-27, 30, 32, 37, 

42, 52, 69, 70, 71, 73, 92, 100, 

120 
Rockefeller, John D., 106 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 168-70, 179, 

184, 186, 187, 195 
Ruskin, John, 60 

"Ruskin as a Teacher," 59-61, 105 
Ryan, Archbishop, 98 

St. Anselm, 79 

"St. Mona's Lambs," 61, 66 

"St. Winifred's Well," 66 

Sanford and Merton, 103 

Sanger, Margaret, 101 

Santayana, George, 202 

Saturday Evening Post, 174 

Schelling, Felix E., 74 

Sedgwick, Ellery, 200, 217 

Serra, Jum'pero, 225, 227, 242, 243. 
244 

Sévigné, Madame de, 122 

Sewell, Miss, 79 

Shakespeare, 249 

Sharp, Becky, 186 

Shaw, Flora, 228 

Shelley, Percy B., 175, 249 

Sheridan, Richard B., 249 

Sherwood, Mrs., 79 

Sinkler, Caroline, 166 

Smith, Talbot, Rev., 62 

Society for the Extension of Uni- 
versity Teaching (University 
Extension), 144, 145 

"Some Aspects of Pessimism," 82, 
250 

"Sphinx, The," 57, 58, 61, 64 

"Spinster, The," 147, 148, 222 

Stevenson, Robert Louis, 171 

"Stili Christmas, A," 75, 76 

"Story of Nuremburg, A," 58 

Strachey, Lytton, 252 



274 



AGNES REPPLIER 



"Strayed Prohibitionist, The," 190- 

92, 251, 260 
"Strayed Sympathies," 197 
"Sympathy," 123 
Synge, John Millington, 165, 166 

Tabert, Bishop, 57 

"Temptations of Ève, The," 161, 

222 
Tennyson, Alfred, 122 
"They Had Their Day," 197 
This Book-Collecting Game, 200, 

201 
Thomas, Augustus, 96, 159 
Thompson, Francis, 164, 165 
"Three Famous Old Maids," 223 
Times and Tendencies, 208, 211, 

212, 221, 233 
To Think of Tea! 212-14, 217, 

221, 222, 232, 258 
Tolstoi, Leo, 250, 257 
"Tourist, The," 148 
"Town and Suburb," 201, 218 
"Tragedy of Beningbrough Hall, 

The," 66 

Under Dispute, 195, 197, 233 
University of Pennsylvania, 52, 74, 

127, 143, 199, 215 
Unwin, Mrs. Fisher, 120 

Varia, 124, 126 

"Virtuous Victorian, The," 186, 
187, 193 

"Waiting," 179, 186, 252 

Walnut Street Theatre (Philadel- 

phia), 158 
Wanamaker's (Philadelphia) , 141, 

216 
"War and the Child," 186 
Ward, Mrs. Humphry, 119 
Warner, Susan, 228 
Warren, Schuyler Neilson, 194 



Warren, Mrs. Schuyler Neilson, 

150, 151, 158, 162-66, 168, 171, 

172, 174-77, 180, 194, 195, 259 
Wesley, Mrs., 79 
Wharton, Anna, 120 
Wharton, Edith, 151, 215 
Wharton, Joseph, 120 
"What Can America Do to Bring 

About Peace," 182 
"What Children Read," 82, 228, 254 
"When Lalla Rookh Was Young," 

153, 218, 223 
White, J. William, 127, 128, 142, 

143, 168, 169, 173, 174, 177, 179, 

184, 187, 195, 217, 231, 232, 

235, 248 
Whitman, Walt, 74, 101, 102, 105 
Whitney, Mrs. Harry Payne, 206 
Whittier, John Greenleaf, 87 
Williams, Talcott, 102, 103 
Wilson, Francis, 159 
Wilson, John (Christopher North), 

121 
Wilson, Woodrow, 170, 172, 179, 

180, 186, 194 
Wings of the Dove, The, 247 
Wister, Mrs. Caspar ("Nannie"), 

108, 109, 116 
"Wit and Humor," 114, 253, 255 
Witmer, Emma Repplier (Mrs. 

Lightner Witmer), 162, 219 
"Woman Enthroned," 223 
"Women and War," 178-80, 223 
Woolf, Virginia, 248 
"Words," 259 
Wordsworth, William, 249 
World Court, 209 

Yale Reviezv, 201 

Yale University, 199, 215 

"Year of War-What Has It 

Taught Us, A," 182 
"Young Catholic Writer: What 

Shall He Do, The," 62 



1 

i COLLEGE UBRAfiY 
Date Due 


















































































































































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